Former Disney Chief Dick Cook, China's Film Carnival Unveil $500M Film Production Fund

Dick Cook
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The first film to be produced under the partnership will be director Paul Haggis' adaptation of the NYT best-seller 'Ranger's Apprentice,' with the aim of launching a franchise.

Former Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook and China's Film Carnival are teaming on a $500 million film financing fund in major boost for the veteran film executive's Dick Cook Studios and furthering his ties to Chinese money.

Film Carnival has committed to fullly finance movies produced by DCS. Cook's Burbank-based company will be responsible for the development, production, worldwide distribution and marketing of the titles. Also, Film Carnival will allow other Chinese investors to invest in those movies on an individual basis. The pact was announced Tuesday by Cook and Film Carnival chairman Lou Xiaolou.

The first film to be produced under the fund is an adaptation of Australian author John Flanagan's New York Times best-selling book series Ranger's Apprentice, which will be directed Crash helmer Paul Haggis from a screenplay written by him and his daughter, Alissa Sullivan Haggis. The story follows an orphan who becomes the apprentice of a man named Ranger as they battle to keep the fantastical kingdom of Araluen safe from a multitude of threats.

Production is set to begin in the fall of 2016 with the hope of launching a new film franchise, considering Flannagan's novel is the first in a series of 12 books.

“We are thrilled to be working with Mr. Lou and his dynamic team at Film Carnival. They are not only visionaries in strategic financing but in the future of entertainment. They are the perfect partners as they share our vision of telling great stories for the entire family to be enjoyed across the globe," Cook said in a statement.

Added Lou: “Ranger’s Apprentice is only the beginning to our strategic plan of a more comprehensive collaboration. I look forward to working together for the future of the art of filmmaking.”

Per another key term of the deal, DCS will will help Film Carnival produce its own proprietary slate of motion pictures in China.

Cook spent four decades at Disney, rising up through the ranks to serve as chairman from 2002 to 2009, helping to oversee the release of films including Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure and Finding Nemo. After stepping down from the position in 2009, Cook joined the board of directors of Legendary Pictures in 2011.

In 2015, Cook launched Dick Cook Studios with a $150 million investment from Citic Guoan Group Co. Ltd., a division of the state-owned Chinese conglomerate Citic Group. The company is focused on creating family-oriented movies, TV shows and other entertainment.

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