Blue Zoo Animation Studio, the London-based cg animation company founded by Adam Shaw, Tom Box, and Oli Hyatt in 2000, announced today that it will receive around US$38 million (£30 million) in funding from China UK Animation Company (CU Animation), a subsidiary of China’s state-owned Zhong Ze Culture Investment Group. The deal, which includes additional guarantees of money beyond the initial investment, is one of the most significant deals for an independent tv animation studio in recent memory.
The multi-BAFTA-winning Blue Zoo, with a staff of over 130 employees, has primarily produced children’s series to date, among them Nick Jr.’s Digby Dragon, CBeebies’ Tree Fu Tom, and Dutch broadcaster KRO’s Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small. We featured the company’s Christmas-themed short on Cartoon Brew last winter.
The two companies will launch a new joint venture called Lanzu, which will initially provide non-exclusive funding for the development and production of at least six new projects over the next five years, including an animated feature film. Zhong Ze has guaranteed a total of $91 million (£72 million) for these co-owned projects, the first of which is scheduled to go into production later this year.