China’s Huayi Brothers to set up animation unit with Hollywood veterans

14 Mar, 2016 5:58 pm

HONG KONG – Chinese film production company Huayi Brothers (300027.SZ) said on Monday it plans to set up an animation unit with Hollywood veterans, part of its plan to expand on the international stage.

Huayi Brothers, which has a market value of 34 billion yuan ($5.2 billion) counts among its investors high-profile Chinese firms such as Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd (BABA.N), Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) and state-backed financial institutions Ping An and CITIC.

The new unit’s chief executive will be Joe Aguilar, a former producer at both DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA.O) and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Huayi said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange.

Aguilar helped DreamWorks to establish its India division, which has produced animations including Madagascar 3 and How to Train Your Dragon, Huayi said. The company’s art director will be Markus Manninen, who was the visual effects supervisor of movies such as Kung Fu Panda 3.

The company did not provide investment details.

“The establishment of an animation company signifies that the company will enter the animated movie industry with world class production skills,” Huayi said in the statement.

Animation has been a key focus in Chinese companies’ drive to develop the country’s film industry. One such effort is Oriental DreamWorks, set up as a joint venture between DreamWorks Animation SKG, China Media Capital, Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd.

In a sign of success, Oriental DreamWorks co-produced the $330-million Kung Fu Panda 3 with U.S.-based DreamWorks, which topped U.S. box offices earlier this year.

China is posing a steep challenge to the North American film market – still the world’s largest – but where box office growth has stalled.

Chinese authorities said this month they would look into the potential issue of faked ticket sales, underlining teething issues still facing the fast-growing market as it increasingly attracts local and overseas investment.

Shares of Huayi, which has produced more than 100 films in the past 21 years, closed up 4.2 percent on Monday. –Reuters

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