Lucasfilm President Discusses China Deals
BEIJING -- The Walt Disney Co. has pledged $1 million in humanitarian aid for areas affected by a deadly recent earthquake in China's southwestern province of Sichuan, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said here on Saturday in one of two appearances, in which she also discussed two recent deals in China.
Having offered her condolences to victims of the earthquake, which has left more than 150 dead and at least 5,500 injured, Kennedy said the donation from the Hollywood conglomerate, which owns Lucasfilm, will be used to rebuild schools in the affected region.
Disney has offered help to Chinese earthquake victims before. In 2007, it donated $1 million to the country, and it helped again in 2010.
Kennedy’s announcement came in Beijing, where she delivered a keynote address at the Chinese capital’s film market. She also signed a previously announced memorandum of understanding to expand the collaboration between Lucasfilm subsidiary Industrial Light & Magic and Beijing-based visual effects company Base FX. The two already had been in a strategic alliance that launched in May.
During her speech, delivered to a packed auditorium at the city’s Chinese National Convention Center, Kennedy -- who visited China for the first time when working for the Shanghai shoot of Steven Spielberg’s 1987 film Empire of the Sun -- also talked about Disney’s initiative, announced last week, of working with the Chinese cultural ministry and Internet company Tencent to develop the country’s budding animation industry.
The move is designed to help the Chinese animation sector to “deliver original content,” she said, adding later in a question-and-answer session that this collaboration will also see Disney look "for characters, which may mean something specifically to Asian audiences.”
Later in the day, Kennedy also led a Lucasfilm delegation in a ceremony marking the signing of the expanded Base FX agreement. The memorandum will see the two companies deepening their cooperation over the next three years, according to a press statement. It said that Base FX has already completed effects work on G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Identity Thief, Pain and Gain, The Lone Ranger and The Pacific Rim under Industrial Light & Magic’s supervision.
Kennedy said Base FX is expected to play a role in future Lucasfilm productions, among them the three upcoming installments of the Star Wars franchise. “The Star Wars universe is full of technological and cutting-edge effects, which Base FX will be a wonderful partner to create with,” she said at the ceremony.
Founded in 2006 by the company’s current CEO Chris Bremble, Base FX has grown from a shingle with just eight artists to a 275-strong company, with 70 percent of its staff being Chinese. Bremble said Base FX was first in touch with Lucasfilm in 2010, around the time when the company won an Emmy for visual effects for the HBO series The Pacific.