John Hughes, co-founder of vfx company Rhythm & Hues, which filed for bankruptcy shortly after being nominated for an Academy Award for its work on Life of Pi, is helping Chinese filmmakers set up a major visual effects company in Beijing.

The deal was formalized on Tuesday between Hughes and the administrative committee of the Beijing Economic-Technological Development. The new vfx company, located in Beijing’s suburban Daxing district, as well as an accompanying visual arts center, will be named after Hughes.

According to a report in China Daily, Hughes revealed during the agreement signing that he’s been learning how to speak Chinese for the last five years and has even given himself a new Chinese name, Zhang Chi. He said that he hoped the new company would encourage positive flows between the West and East, namely by importing more U.S. technology into the Chinese vfx market, while creating Chinese films that will perform better in the international market.

Hughes’ new company will focus not only on visual effects production, but also visual product development, education/training, as well as virtual reality-related hardware, software, and content development. The accompanying art center, to be co-funded by Hughes’ Beijing enterprise and venture capital firm FTC Global, will aim to develop a sustainable long-term filmmaking ecosystem, that includes everything from education and training to financial services. The center, reported China Daily, will “also serve as a bridge to facilitate cooperation between Beijing and Hollywood in film and TV.”

Hughes has been a longtime promoter of developing Asia’s visual effects industry, and his former company, Rhythm & Hues, had a significant studio of over 100 employees in Malaysia. A few years ago, at director Ang Lee’s urging, Hughes was also involved in talks to develop Taiwan’s vfx industry.

Hughes established the Los Angeles-based Rhythm & Hues in 1987, with five other former employees of Robert Abel and Associates. The company was especially recognized for integrating CG animals into live-action features, and its credits included Yogi Bear, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, Hop, The Golden Compass, Scooby-Doo, Stuart Little, Babe, and Batman Forever. The company also created the iconic 1990s Coca-Cola polar bears ad campaign.

Latest News from Cartoon Brew