Magazine article Screen International

Australian Firms Strike China Film Deal

Magazine article Screen International

Australian Firms Strike China Film Deal

Article excerpt

Agreements set to produce seven family features worth $78m.

Shanghai Hippo Animation Design Company is to partner with two Western Australian companies on seven animated children's and family films in the next three years worth $78m.

The estimate comes from Hippo founder and chief executive Kerr Xu and the two Australian companies are Vue Group and ZAC Films.

"We might go bigger though," Xu told ScreenDaily from Perth. "80% of the money will come from my company and 20% from my Australian partners."

There are plans to create a fund for further feature film joint ventures between China and Australia - a fund that other producers will be able to tap into with the right scripts.

When established later this year it will have $10m available but the target is $50m.

"For an Australian producer to be given a guarantee of a certain level of release in a market such as China is phenomenal," said Xu, adding that Hippo is also in film distribution.

"No American producer can guarantee release in North America. The only criteria will be that the film supports filmmaking in Australia and China and, just as in real estate you say 'location, location, location', in filmmaking you say 'script, script, script'."

Xu said the presales available for China, particularly for animated films, are enough to cover 70-80% of production costs. Hippo has also guaranteed to provide 100% of the print and advertising costs, he added.

Upcoming productions

Hippo currently produces four to five features a year with credits including Animen 1 and 2, Jungle Master, Little Bear's Secret and Farm House 81. …

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