Malaysia inks ani co-prod'n deals

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HONG KONG -- Malaysia made a splash Wednesday at the Hong Kong Filmart, with several companies signing 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 to be made in Malaysia with a U.S. production team for the global DVD and broadcast markets.

"It's our 'Dora the Explorer,' " said Terry Thoren, principal of the U.S. half of the deal. Thoren's previous projects include the animated hit "The Rugrats Movie."

Budget details were not announced, and how the partners' will divide potential profits and distribution duties is still under discussion, Elemental managing director Leon Tan said.

Also on the list of Malaysian co-productions in the works was a $4 million deal between Animasia Studio, a unit of MSC Malaysia Co., and Hong Kong-based Animation Services Ltd. to make the two 26-episode HDTV series "ABC Monster Detectives" and "Kung Fu Chicken."

Each series episode will be 22 minutes and expected to be completed in fourth-quarter 2008, the companies said.

"Detectives," previously produced by Animasia, was the only Asian production in the top 30 "world animation powerhouse" list at the junior trade show at October's MIPCOM in Cannes.

These deals and at least two others signed Wednesday, the details of which were not available, represent a big push by the Malaysian government's Multimedia Development Corp.

"I am sure there will be more deals and international ventures not just for Animasia but other animation companies as a result of MDeC's initiatives and support of the creative industry," Animasia managing director Edmund Chan said.

Malaysia's presence at Filmart -- 27 companies, up seven from 2006 -- and its seven films screening at the concurrent Hong Kong International Film Festival, represent the country's biggest presence at the Hong Kong market.
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