A wholesome Peppa Pig, once criticized as too “gangster,” is coming to China’s big screens

Looking forward to watching you in the theater.
Looking forward to watching you in the theater.
Image: Reuters/Aly Song
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Thanks to China’s booming live-streaming platforms, the British cartoon character Peppa Pig became China’s internet darling—and not just with toddlers. The cute, chubby piglet has acquired a “gangster” vibe in China, after internet users portrayed the preschool show character wearing rapper-style gold necklaces, and smoking cigars.

That apparently upset the authorities, who worried that such imagery was a bad influence on young people, leading them to stray from mainstream values, such as getting a stable job, according to state media Global Times. The pig was censored on some sites this year, such as live-streaming app Douyin.

Now Peppa looks set to make a big screen debut in China in a more wholesome incarnation. Alibaba Pictures, the film unit of China’s biggest e-commerce company, is co-producing on a film with Entertainment One, Peppa Pig’s rights holder, according to registration information (link in Chinese) with China’s film regulator on Wednesday (Aug.8).

The film will present a family-loving Peppa Pig, similar to her image in the British show. The movie, titled Little Peppa Pig’s New Year tells a story about how two Chinese children spend Chinese Lunar New Year with their parents and grandparents. The two kids are like “Peppa Pig and George (a friend of Peppa), they love each other, family, and life more, after going through things,” read the registration.

Alibaba might be trying to lend a hand to Chinese authorities in its family procreation campaign—the news of the Alibaba Peppa Pig movie comes soon after China released a stamp for the next Chinese Lunar New Year, in early 2019, which will usher in the year of the pig. The stamp shows a pig family with three piglets, and appears to be a signal that China will lift all restrictions on the number of children a family can have. Earlier, before easing the one-child policy that had been in place nearly four decades, China released a stamp showing a mother monkey hugging two baby monkeys.

The domestic film industry often promotes values favored by the ruling Communist Party such as “positive energy” and the importance of family (link in Chinese). Alibaba didn’t immediately respond to requests for more information about the film.

China is also set to get two theme parks featuring the piglet character in Shanghai and Beijing next year, in her non-gangsta persona.