Magazine article Variety

Fish Story Helps Canuck Firm Enter China

Magazine article Variety

Fish Story Helps Canuck Firm Enter China

Article excerpt

Vancouver-based indie production company Industry Works' president Evan Tylor never expected to be co-producing an animated feature, let alone one with China But when he was presented with the opportunity to jump onboard "Back to the Sea," which was already in production, he jumped at the opportunity.

Being in business with China opens up an enormous, rapidly growing market share and access to financing. And while China has a limit of only 20 foreign pics a year that are allowed to be released theatrically, pics with a Chinese production company involved are considered domestic, and are exempt from this limitation.

"This woke me up to a whole other possibility," Tylor says of IndustryWorks' first co-production with China, via partnerships with Glory & Dream Digital Animation and the Jiangsu Broadcast Co., the second-largest broadcaster in China

Helmed by Gloiy & Dream co-founder Thorn Lu, "Back to the Sea" follows Kevin, an adventurous young flying fish from the New York Harbor who is captured by a fishing ship and delivered directly to the fish tank of a restaurant in New York's Chinatown. There, he meets a quiet Chinese boy who has the same longing for excitement and adventure as his finned friend. The two embark on a quest to return Kevin back to the sea

The voice cast includes Christian Slater, Tim Curry, Mark Hamill and Tom Kenny ("SpongeBob SquarePants"). Pic opened wide across Canada in 2D and 3D on Jan. 27. There are plans ultimately to release the film on a wider scale in the U.S.

Jiangsu will distribute and broadcast the dubbed version in China.

Although the pic (budgeted at $8 milhon-$10 million) already had funding from Jiangsu, producers were keen to get a North American company involved in order to help breech that market As a partner, IndustryWorks oversaw completion of ables, postproduction, distribution, marketing, and agreements with SAG to complete casting, hooking up Slater and Currey.

In return, they now own international ancillary rights outside China.

Tylor believes the pic can find an authence within the North American market as well as China, due to its cross-cultural storyline. "They created a story that's very Western," Tylor says.

Lu admits that Glory & Dream considered the market when plotting the pic. "We think New York Chinatown has the perfect combination of Eastern and Western culture," he says, "this background will not be too Chinese for North American authences and also not too American for Chinese authences. …

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