China’s Alpha Group Launches L.A.-Based Feature Animation Unit

Animation vet Bob Bacon has been named CEO.
Courtesy of Alpha Animation
Bob Bacon

China’s Alpha Group is making a move into feature animation with the launch of a Los Angeles-based division to develop and produce animated feature films for a global audience and the hiring of industry vet Bob Bacon as its CEO.

Bacon previously held executive positions at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Paramount Animation. In his new role, Bacon will oversee development, production and operations with the goal of releasing Alpha Animation's first feature in 2020 and to produce one film per year thereafter.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Bacon said the company is looking for talent, not just with animation but also with live-action backgrounds. He notes that they are looking to take advantage of company-owned IP such as from Alpha’s Group’s U17 Chinese comic website, in addition to developing original ideas. Bacon added that plans are to have preproduction, including design and editorial, in L.A., and it’s to be determined where animation production will take place.

The unit also is expected to take advantage of synergies with other parts of the company. Alpha Group recently established an L.A.-based live-action feature film development company called Alpha Pictures, which is developing U.S.-China co-productions, including those based on the properties from U17. Alpha Group also owns multiple distribution channels including kids TV network Jiajia Cartoon in Southern China.

“Animation has always been at the core of our company’s focus, and producing world-class animation is a key step of Alpha’s globalization strategy,” said Alpha Interactive Entertainment division CEO Chen De Rong.

Bacon started his career at Disney Animation in 1991 and worked his way up to executive vp of Walt Disney Animation Studios, overseeing production, finance and technology and running operations.

He most recently held the post of executive vp of production for Paramount Animation, where he served as head of the animation division until he parted ways with the studio roughly a year ago. While at Paramount, Bacon oversaw the production of 2015’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and helped develop additional films. Prior to his work at Paramount, he served as a production executive for Disney’s Touchstone Pictures on the 2011 animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet.