Turner Asia Pacific has secured a memorandum of understanding with China’s Tencent Pictures to develop a live-action/CGI-animated feature film starring its popular Chinese rabbit emoticon Tuzki.
The film arm of China’s social media giant Tencent will lead production and distribution for the movie with Turner handling licensing and merchandising, live experiences and family entertainment centers. Production is expected to begin next year followed by a premiere in China in 2018.
Momo Wang created the youth-oriented digital brand in 2006, and Tuzki now generates 20 million daily transmissions across global social media platforms, while the Tuzki emoji package has been downloaded more than five billion times on Tencent’s instant messaging service WeChat.
Recent brand extensions for Tuzki include animated shorts, a themed restaurant in Shanghai that opened in April, a summer sports-themed exhibition launch at Chinese luxury resort Galaxy Macau and a major promotion drive at Beijing Comic Con in June.
The film partnership arrives as more content producers are taking advantage of the rise in emoticon usage among kids and families.
Sony Pictures Animation, for example, is releasing a comedic feature film next year, Emojimovie: Express Yourself, that will look at the secret lives of phones and emojis.