Thai prodco Shellhut Entertainment and Singapore’s Tiny Island Pictures have signed a co-production memorandum of understanding with Shanghia Media Group subsidiary WingsMedia that will see the companies produce 10 feature films valued at an estimated US$250 million.
The deal marks the biggest animation film cooperation in Asia and the first-ever animation co-production between China, Singapore and Thailand.
First up will be Dream Defenders: The Next Dimension (working title), a movie based on Tiny Island’s hit animated series Dream Defenders and Wings’ sci-fi reality TV series Starship MZ: 2049.
According to Tiny Island Productions CEO David Kwok, the basic concept of the film will be the same as the TV series, but the artistic design will change.
“Our objective is to create a new formula that balances the needs of both the Chinese and US markets,” Kwok says, noting that Tiny Island Pictures is a new JV between Shellhut (Shelldon, Tasty Tales of the Food Truckers) and Tiny Island Productions.
Targeting tweens and families, Dream Defenders: The Next Dimension is expected to launch in 2020 and the companies plan to release a new film based on a new IP each following year with the long-term goal of creating China’s own version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Leading the development and production of the films is director Paul Chung, who has worked with a number of major studios including DreamWorks, Disney and Warner Bros. on films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, Shrek, Madagascar, Megamind and Jungle Book.
To help create films with international appeal, the venture is currently in talks with potential US and European co-production partners. As for brand expansion, the 10 film IPs will be used to build theme parks in Thailand and for licensing and merchandising purposes.
“We will also integrate a new way to engage sophisticated Millennials using interactive VR and other new methods in our promotion campaigns,” says Kwok.
The JV is not the first time WingsMedia has worked with Tiny Island. In June, it announced plans to develop a Chinese version of Dream Defenders incorporating Chinese mythology and new characters into the re-imagined CGI series.
Distributed by DreamWorks, the original Dream Defenders follows 14-year-old twins who are tasked with protecting the real world from nightmarish monsters after a magical portal is accidentally unlocked. To date, the series has been sold into 80 countries worldwide, including the US, where it recently made its Amazon Prime debut.