Disney’s Trail of the Panda opened last Friday, but you wouldn’t know about it if you lived in North America. That’s because this feature film is Disney’s second Chinese-language film and opened in mainland China.
The film almost didn’t make it to the big screen because of the earthquake in Sichuan, China last May. Filming was wrapping up when the earthquake struck, leaving 28 of the film crew stranded for 3 days before they were rescued. The one year anniversary of the quake is generating interest in the film and attracting audiences to the theater.
Success of Panda would likely mean a dubbing into English and release here in North America, similar to the first Chinese language film from Disney, Secret of the Magic Gourd. You probably didn’t hear about this one either since Disney chose not to release it to the theaters in the U.S., but instead it went straight to a DVD release in January of this year. While the dubbing isn’t perfect, this story features a good moral for kids (you need to work hard/nothing is truly free in life).
After hearing about the availability of the DVD earlier this year, I bought my daughter a copy of The Secret of the Magic Gourd, since it featured Asian kids and what seemed like a good compelling story. It’s difficult enough to find positive Asian influences for her in Hollywood’s offerings, and I was grateful for the availability of this movie. We’ve had enough discussions already on why she doesn’t have blond hair, and I wanted her to see not everyone on TV and in the movies is blond. She really enjoyed the movie, even if she didn’t understand all of it, and seemed to identify with the kids in the movie. Now if we could only get Disney to publicize these movies more in the U.S., so other Asian families find them as well.