Viral web series about Chinese artifact in British Museum to become feature film

A three-part web series about a Chinese jade teapot finding its way home to China after escaping from the British Museum is now getting its own state-backed animated film.

Filmed in Edinburgh and made by two Douyin content creators, “Escape from the British Museum” clocked up hundreds of millions of views across Chinese social media platforms Douyin, BiliBli, and Xiaohongshu last month. One of the content creators, Summer Sister, plays the role of the jade teapot, who comes to life in human form in the series. Together the two creators have 7.9 million subscribers on Douyin.

On September 15, the China Film Administration announced it had approved a proposal for a feature-length animated version of the film made by Manen Film Company in Shenzhen.

The announcement comes after a wave of heated discussion among Chinese netizens about the status of Chinese artifacts in the British Museum. The viral online topic was sparked by a scathing editorial in the nationalist publication the Global Times, which called the museum a “microcosm of British colonial expansion” and requested that its Chinese cultural relics be returned.

“Escape from the British Museum” was posted around the same time as the debate was kicking off on the Twitter-like platform Weibo, but the two creators were reportedly not aware of the Global Times article.

The real-life teapot that the series is based on was created in 2011 by Suzhou-based Chinese craftsman Yu Ting, and acquired by the British Museum in 2017.  The teapot’s delicate lotus design is inspired by art from the Mughals, an early modern Muslim empire in South Asia.

“We would emphasise the jade teapot in the collection is not an historical object and similar modern items are available for purchase in China today,” a British Museum spokesperson said.

A trailer for the series has also been posted on YouTube and the first episode will be shared there on September 30.


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