London-based Blue Zoo has received a US$92-million funding injection (£72 million) from Zhong Ze-owned China UK Animation Company (CU Animation) to launch a new joint-venture called Lanzu.
Blue Zoo, which produces CGI-animated series Digby Dragon for Nick Jr. US, will secure an initial investment of US$38 million (£30 million) from the total fund to invest in new and existing productions.
Specifically, Lanzu will initially provide non-exclusive funding for the development and production of an animated feature film, as well as at least five additional projects over the next five years. The first untitled project is set to begin production later this year. There will also be extra co-production money from CU Animation’s investment for new series from Blue Zoo’s existing IP portfolio.
Blue Zoo launched in 2000 by Adam Shaw, Tom Box and Oliver Hyatt, who is the former head of lobby group Animation UK. Other shows in its slate include Olive the Ostrich and Miffy.
Zhong Ze Culture Investment, meanwhile, was established by president Xi Jinping in Hong Kong in April 2014. China UK Animation Company is part of entertainment organization CU Culture Group that operates between Europe and China, with offices in Beijing, London, Dublin, Hong Kong and Macau. It covers music, animation, film, TV, web content, live events, sports, video distribution and has a talent agency.
Blue Zoo’s partnership with Zhong Ze falls in line with its ongoing growth strategy across the Asian and international market for commercial, branded and creative animation.
The JV also comes as collaboration between China and the UK animation community continues to flourish. Earlier this month, CHF Entertainment’s 2D-animated series Pip Ahoy! was snapped up by IPTV, SVOD and satellite networks in China.