The first ever China-Singapore-Thailand animation co-production was announced on Monday at MIPCOM, and it is an ambitious deal that could ultimately result in 10 animated features valued at USD$250 million.
The three-way deal involves Thailand’s Shellhut Entertainment, Singapore’s Tiny Island Productions, and China’s Wingsmedia, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group. The announcement, which was sealed with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, is being touted by its signators as the biggest-ever animated film cooperation in Asia.
To create the films, Shellhut and Tiny Island Productions have launched a new entity together, Tiny Island Pictures, to create the films. The first film that will be produced from this venture will integrate Wingsmedia’s sci-fi centric reality tv series Starship MZ: 2049 with Tiny Island Productions’ Dream Defenders (pictured at top).
The original Dream Defenders, about twins Zane and Zoey who battle creatures in the realm where humans dream, is one of the most successful animated series to ever come out of Singapore, having been sold to over 80 countries through Dreamworks. In the U.S., it’s currently available through Amazon Prime Video. We’re told that the new feature reboot is being aged-up with new designs and more layered storytelling that will appeal to tween/teen markets in both the West and China.
This first film is expected to be completed in 2020, followed by a new film based on a new IP the following year. The long-term vision of these producers is bold, to say the least: they want “to build China’s own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that will entertain audiences worldwide.” As part of that strategy, Shellhut Entertainment plans to use the IP from the films as the basis for theme parks in Thailand, as well as developing extensive licensing and merchandising programs.
“This collaboration will bring together science fiction from China and the rest of the world,” said Shelan He, president of Wingsmedia. “I believe the co-produced films will showcase the best of China’s culture, as well as expose China’s audiences to the multi-cultural characteristics of Singapore and Thailand.”
Development and production of the films will be led by American industry veteran Paul Chung, who has supervising animation credits on many Dreamworks Animation productions dating back to the original Shrek. He was most recently an animation lead on The Jungle Book and Guardians of the Galaxy.
“Paul has many years of experience working in the U.S. and U.K., and has been working in China recently,” said David Kwok, CEO of Tiny Island Productions, who anticipates that Chung will help them reach their goal to “create appealing characters and stories that will touch the heart of audiences in the East and West.”
Shellhut and Tiny Island Pictures’ next plan is to bring onboard American and European partners for the projects.