hong kong entertainment expo digest

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Malaysia companies get animated

HONG KONG — Malaysia made a splash at the Hong Kong Filmart on Wednesday as several companies closed animated entertainment content co-production deals. Elemental Ventures of Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles-based Thoren Entertainment agreed to produce "Ketchup and Mustard," a preschool animation series for the DVD and broadcast markets to be made in Malaysia with a U.S. production team. "It's our 'Dora the Explorer,' " said Terry Thoren, principal of the U.S. half of the deal. Also on the list of Malaysian co-productions is a $4 million deal between Animasia Studio, a unit of MSC Malaysia Co., and Hong Kong-based Animation Services Ltd. to create two 26-episode HDTV series: "ABC Monster Detectives" and "Kung Fu Chicken." The 27 Malaysian companies at Filmart represent the country's largest presence at the Hong Kong market.



Activers inks VOD deals for Korean classics

HONG KONG — South Korean Activers Entertainment Co. will begin providing classic Korean movies and other content via VOD to the U.K.'s Firecracker Media beginning in late April or May, the Seoul-based media company said Wednesday. The deal covers the U.K., Ireland, the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Activers president Peter Seo said. Seo added that the VOD content will feature streaming video at near-DVD quality resolution. "The Firecracker deal is just the first step," Seo said. "We want to provide Korean content worldwide." The titles included are largely classic films from the 1960s and '70s, most of which have never been issued on DVD.



Big Media has plans for big slate

HONG KONG — Recalling the glory days of Hong Kong cinema, local production house startup Big Media has announced plans to make 100 films during the next five years. "Not only do we aim to facilitate film development and create more job opportunities, we also (have) set our goal to reach another milestone by moving the film industry forward internationally, with mainland China as our backup," Big Media Group Ltd. chairman Li Kuo Hsing said Wednesday. The 100 titles will include a mix of four or five big-budget tentpoles, 10 art house films and six or seven midlevel films each year. Big Media plans to contribute HK$140 million ($17.9 million) each year for a total of $89 million and will actively seek to work with other partners. The company, which has starting capital of HK$45 million ($5.8 million), said it has an investment agreement in place with IDG's China Media Fund.



ARP reaches for 'Sky'

HONG KONG — French film distributor ARP Selection has snapped up all French-speaking rights to Fortissimo Films' "Eye in the Sky," the Hong Kong International Film Festival opener by debut director Yau Nai-hoi. The deal for the Sundream Motion Pictures title, concluded late Tuesday at the festival's parallel Hong Kong Filmart, was signed by Fortissimo's co-chairman Wouter Barendrecht and ARP's Michele Halberstadt. Financial details were not disclosed. "Eye," which stars Tony Leung, Simon Yam and newcomer Kate Tsui, premiered in February at the Berlin International Film Festival.



Osaka preps digital content mart

HONG KONG — Japan's second-largest city, Osaka, will host a new digital content market in the fall, organizers of the Asia Contents Market said Wednesday. "The main thing is to do something outside of Tokyo," said Mikio Sugiura, project manager of the Osaka Digital Contents Industry Promotion Council. "Tokyo is a mature entertainment industry, but when you are talking online games, digital cinema and new platforms, it is not the best place." Running Sept. 29-Oct. 2, the ACM will kick off the next Japan International Contents Festival, a series of media events that concludes with the Tokyo International Film Festival market. Sugiura said organizers hope to attract 200 exhibitors and 5,000 visitors.
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