Licensing maven Al Ovadia has come out of semi-retirement to head up LABS (Los Angeles-Beijing Studios), a new company that’s on a mission to better integrate the North American and Chinese film markets.
Headquartered in L.A. but with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei, LABS will focus on what it calls the ‘Golden Triangle’ of merchandising, franchising and global co-productions. The studio has already set up a US$300-million strategic venture with the Hotland Film Ventures film fund to fuel its first slate of China-US co-productions. In all, LABS has over 100 IPs in its development pipeline, with 20 completed screenplays awaiting clearance by the Chinese government.
On the animation front, Frank Marshall (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, The Bourne Identity) has been tapped to executive produce a LABS/Funtoons animated feature, and Funtoons Animation head Greg Manwaring has also come aboard.
As CEO, Ovadia brings more than 30 years of experience in branding, marketing, licensing, videogames and online to LABS. In his previous studio role as EVP of consumer products at Sony Pictures, he managed such blockbuster franchises as Spider-Man. And before that, Ovadia oversaw global licensing, operations, product placement, branding and promotions, and interactive at 20th Century Fox as president of L&M.