18 years after Huan Zhu Ge Ge (还珠格格) won over the hearts of viewers across China, leading actress Zhao Wei will return to the story that catapulted her to fame. Alibaba Pictures recently announced that it will release an animated film adaptation of Huan Zhu Ge Ge, with Zhao Wei taking on the role of director.
In recent years, many popular dramas have been adapted for the silver screen, causing fans to wonder if Huan Zhu Ge Ge would earn similar treatment. In 2014, news reports claimed that Alibaba Pictures had purchased the rights to adapt the novel into a film. Because of Zhao Wei’s close ties with Alibaba founder Jack Ma, it was strongly believed that she would support the project by participating in the movie in some way.
However, in the two years since, there has been little to no news regarding the rumored animated film — until now. Yesterday, Alibaba CEO Zhang Qiang unexpectedly announced that preparations for the movie would begin this year, and that the company planned to present the story as an animated film.
“Finding another Little Swallow would have been too hard,” Zhang Qiang explained. “Who would be able to surpass the original? It’s different if we do an animated film — now we can make an entirely new animated version of Little Swallow.”
Zhao Wei will serve as the film’s director, having graduated from the directing institute of Beijing Film Academy in 2012. Her directorial debut, So Young (致我们终将逝去的青春), was released in 2013.
Huan Zhu Ge Ge, also known as My Fair Princess and Princess Returning Pearl, is based on a novel by writer Qiong Yao and tells the story of Little Swallow, an orphan girl who is mistaken for a long-lost Qing Dynasty princess. Since its first broadcast in 1998, the drama has become a staple for Hunan TV, frequently being rerun during the summer and even spawning two sequels and a remake in 2011.