DreamWorks Animation has agreed to a deal with leading Chinese Web TV company Youku.com that will see the studio’s Kung Fu Panda films debut on the site’s premium on-demand platform and then become available on its Hollywood Movie Channel after the pay window closes. The companies, who made the announcement today, said it is the first online distribution agreement for DWA films in China, where the first movie in the franchise was the No. 1 animated film in the market in 2008 and the second film last year became the fastest in history to pass 100 million yuan. The films, which were distributed by Paramount, are set in China, and DWA animators visited there to get inspiration for the movies’ environments, which take off on the nation’s traditional art and architecture.
DWA becomes the latest U.S. studio to take a crack at the enticing Chinese market. Earlier this month, Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment launched Hong Kong-based Legendary East, which will build a studio there and make movies with an eye on the China market; it’s first project is Ed Zwick’s The Great Wall. In addition, Relativity Media unveiled a strategic partnership with China’s Huaxia Film Distribution and SkyLand Film-Television Culture Development that includes forming the first U.S.-China distribution company.