Joint venture unites Asian film studios
Thailand's Shellhut and Singapore's Tiny Island Pictures have signed a co-production agreement with China's Wings Media to produce 10 big-screen-calibre animated feature films, US entertainment magazine Variety reported.
The US$250-million deal is the largest of its kind in Asia, "and the first ever China-Singapore-Thailand animation co-production", according to the magazine.
Wings Media, part of Oriental Pearl Group, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, one of China's largest media conglomerates. Despite insistence that the films are intended for theatrical release, the announcement was made at the Mipcom TV trade show in Cannes.
While the partners said the films are intended for theatrical release, they have not disclosed the details of their international distribution strategy.
"Shellhut and Tiny Island Pictures' next step will be to talk with American and European partners," David Kwok, Tiny Island chief executive, told Variety.
Dream Defenders, the first film produced by the joint venture, will integrate Wings Media's sci-fi-centric hit reality TV series Starship MZ: 2049 with Tiny Island Productions' award-winning animated series Dream Defenders and is expected to be released in 2020.
The companies plan to release the remaining films on a yearly basis.
"The long-term goal will be to build China's version of the Marvel cinematic universe to entertain audiences worldwide," the companies said in a joint release.
This is not the first series of products to grow out of the collaboration. The partnership previously produced Shellhut Entertainment's hit animated TV series Shelldon. Intellectual property from the new films will be used to build theme parks in Thailand, said Variety.
The films will be produced by a global ensemble of animation professionals led by director Paul Chung, who participated in the films Shrek, The Jungle Book and Guardians of the Galaxy.
"The co-produced films will showcase the best of China's culture, as well as expose China's audiences to the multicultural characteristics of Singapore and Thailand," Shelan He, vice-president of Oriental Pearl and president of Wings Media, said in a statement quoted by Variety.