#18 It Pays to Play: The Economy that Runs on Whimsy


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Children’s entertainment is a growing industry in China, with many opportunities for flexible and innovative creators to produce marketable content. Prospects are particularly bright for those working at the intersection of children’s entertainment and education, which has long been an important source of revenue in a country where 93 percent of families pay out-of-pocket for tuition and related fees, according to a 2017 HSBC study. On this episode we discuss the economics of children’s entertainment in China, and how creators can engage in this corner of the market.


Kevin Geiger: Partner, Magic Dumpling Entertainment

Kevin’s website | Kevin’s LinkedIn | Magic Dumpling’s website

Natasha Shetye: Studio Manager, Thinkwell Group

Natasha’s LinkedIn

April Wang: Beijing Playhouse

Beijing Playhouse’s website

And, as usual, your host, Aladin Farré.

Aladin’s LinkedIn | Aladin’s Twitter


Middle Earth is made by China Compass Productions. If you have a China-themed cultural project, please get in touch!

Recommended watching and listening:

White Snake 白蛇: 缘起 (2019), a Chinese animated film.

Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf 喜羊羊与灰太狼, a popular Chinese animated TV series launched in 2005.

Answers to the episode quiz:

  • Kung Fu Panda is the hit American animated film that, given the content, made many Chinese netizens openly question why China had not produced anything similar.
  • Honor of Kings 王者荣耀 is the video game that now features a time limit for children and teenagers playing it.
  • Wáng Fúmǎn 王福满, the real name of the schoolboy who braved an ice storm to walk to school and whose photo, complete with icicles in his hair, went viral on the Chinese internet — earning him the nickname “Ice Boy.”
  • Only 30 percent of proceeds at the Chinese box office went to animated films produced in China between 2011 and 2017.