Amblin Partners has started production on “A Dog’s Journey,” the sequel to the 2017 family dramedy “A Dog’s Purpose,” with an eye toward the China market, the Steven Spielberg-owned film studio said Sunday.
Alibaba Pictures, as well as Walden Media, will be co-producing and co-financing the new film. In addition, Alibaba Group’s film financing and production arm will support local marketing for the film in China.
“A Dog’s Journey” is slated to debut on May 17 next year, said Amblin, which tied its announcement to National Dog Day in the U.S.. Actors Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad, who voices the titular dog in the film, will reprise their roles in the sequel.
“Our mission is to be a gateway for Hollywood into China and help great universal stories with positive energy maximize their potential with audiences in China and around the world,” said Alibaba Pictures President Zhang Wei.
“‘A Dog’s Purpose’ was embraced by audiences globally with great storytelling and a heart-warming message,” Zhang added. “We are excited to build upon the success of that film by working with our partners at Amblin and Walden to bring the next chapter of this film to audiences around the world.”
Watch: ‘A Dog’s Journey’ teaser
Given the success of “A Dog’s Purpose” in the country last year, Amblin previously said it would “keep Chinese audiences in mind” as it moves ahead with the sequel, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“A Dog’s Purpose” grossed $188 million worldwide, said the Journal. Most notably, the Chinese market alone contributed $88 million, or 47% of global ticket sales, thanks to marketing support from Alibaba Pictures.
Alibaba Pictures leveraged analytics from its parent company’s vast ecosystem of e-commerce and media sites to target pet owners, families and female moviegoers, and then marketed “A Dog’s Purpose” to them via Alibaba’s online movie-ticketing service, Taopiaopiao. Alibaba also rolled out a series of offline campaigns, including pet-adoption events at movie theaters and shopping centers and special pet-friendly screenings for moviegoers.
The potential audience for the sequel is even larger, as pet ownership surges among China’s still-growing middle class. Last year, Chinese consumers spent RMB 17.5 billion ($2.54 billion) on their pets, a number that is expected to soar to RMB 46.3 billion by 2020, according to research firm Euromonitor.
“A Dog’s Journey” is the latest feature-length film to receive marketing and financial backing from Alibaba Pictures, following the recently released “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and the upcoming Chinese movie based on the U.K.’s popular Peppa Pig cartoon series, “Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year.”