Magazine article Variety

The Man Behind China's 'MONSTER' HIT

Magazine article Variety

The Man Behind China's 'MONSTER' HIT

Article excerpt

"All the Hollywood studios want to screen my movie now. They want to see what all the fuss is about," chuckles animator and director Raman Hui, who is clearly enjoying the success of his debut Asian feature, "Monster Hunt," which delivered the biggest ever opening at the box office for a 3D Chinese movie.

The live action-CGI hybrid - in which evil humans have driven cute monsters from their homeland - has taken in almost $300 million since its July 16 release, and is still going strong. Hui says he expects to make a sequel. "The audience will be angry if I don't," he says. "But they want it next month."

Hui, who was born in Hong Kong, is no stranger in Hollywood. He spent 20 years as an animator with Pacific Data Images and DreamWorks Animation, where, among his many accomplishments, he designed the titular ogre for "Shrek." He counts DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg as a close friend.

Hui says he wanted some time away from DWA to explore what he could do in China, and quietly went to work with Hong Kong producer Bill Kong, whose Edko Films has an expanding footprint in the mainland as a producer, distributor and exhibitor.

"Monster Hunt" was substantially made with key crew and actors from Hong Kong, and special effects houses from mainland China. "It is a simple tale," Hui says, "very familiar to Chinese people, but with a look that is very different to what they are used to seeing."

Hui says he learned plenty from Katzenberg and DWA, including production strategies. Although "Monster Hunt" is essentially a live-action film with animated elements, Hui, writer-producer Alan Yuen and their team constructed it as they would an animated film. "We drew the whole movie, storyboarded and planned it, 'til we had a cartoon version," Hui explains. "Then we converted it."

The DWA approach also helped with marketing. "DreamWorks makes its films for adults, but bears in mind that kids will see them too," says Hui. …

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