'Fly-in' program pays off for Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysian media companies announced $110 million worth of agreements with international companies Friday following the first "buyer fly-in program," held this week in the Malaysian capital.

About 20 international companies, including six production houses from the U.S. and about 30 local producers, took part in the two-day program, organized by the government-backed Malaysian Development Corp.'s (MDeC) creative multimedia and content unit.

The total value of the deals, many of which have been in discussion since MIPTV, was about $10 million higher than originally expected.

"This is a pleasant surprise and a testimony of our creative talents," MDeC CEO Badlisham Ghazali said during the closing ceremony Friday. "I believe Malaysia is now ready to offer its creative and digital contents to the world."

The buyer fly-in program is part of Malaysia's stepped-up efforts to tap the $600 billion global industry for animation, computer games, mobile content and digital comics, according to MDeC, which also has increased the country's presence at international trade shows such as MIPTV.

"Over the next few years, we will place heavier emphasis on promoting and telling the world that Malaysians have the capability and are committed to grow the industry via strategic collaborations with foreign partners," Ghazali said.

On Thursday, Malaysian animation studio Rocket Fish Studios Sdn Bhd announced tie-ups with nine international production companies, including DIC Entertainment from the U.S. and Ireland's Cartoon Saloon.

Among the Rocket Fish projects under development is a 26-episode animated production with Archie Entertainment that updates Archie Comics' characters Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and friends, Rocket Fish Studios' chief executive Terry Thoren said.

Rocket Fish also is producing "Secret Millionaire's Club" with DIC Entertainment. The direct-to-DVD movie introduces children to money management tips from financial guru Warren Buffet.
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