'Crazy Rich Asians' Producer Ivanhoe Pictures Launches Indonesian Film Slate

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Ivanhoe Pictures president and CEO John Penotti

The company is linking with Korean major CJ Entertainment and two Indonesian companies to tap into the Southeast Asian nation's recent box-office growth.

Ivanhoe Pictures, the film financier and producer best known as Warner Bros' co-production partner on Crazy Rich Asians, has inked deals with several Asian production companies to co-produce a three-picture slate of local-language films in Indonesia.

All three of the projects will be written and directed by noted Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar. The deal was unveiled Tuesday by Ivanhoe Pictures president and CEO John Penotti.

Partnering with Ivanhoe on the projects are Indonesian studio Base Entertainment, Korean major CJ Entertainment and Indonesian production company Rapi Films. The four companies will co-develop, co-finance and co-produce, with Base handling local distribution in Indonesia.

"This marks the first partnership between U.S., Indonesian and Korean filmmakers with the purpose of collaborating on local-language films," Penotti said in a statement. "Combining expertise of established international production companies like Ivanhoe and CJ Entertainment with that of the skilled local entities Base Entertainment and Rapi Films — which have a vital understanding of Indonesian audiences and the rapidly expanding market — is an exciting venture for our collective companies."

The Indonesian theatrical market has seen a surge of growth in recent years, as expanding cinema infrastructure continues to come online across the previously underserved territory.

Anwar's latest film, Pengabdi Setan (Satan’s Slaves), sold 4.2 million tickets in Indonesia upon its release in 2017, the most of the year and the fourth-best of all time. Produced by Rapi Films and CJ, the project was a reboot of the 1980s Indonesian horror classic of the same name. It also performed respectably in neighboring Southeast Asian territories, opening at No. 1 in Hong Kong and earning $1.5 million in Malaysia, for example.

The three Indonesian-language features Anwar will write and direct for Ivanhoe and its partners include the genre titles Impetigore, The Vow and Ghost in the Cell.

"We believe that this opportunity to join forces from U.S., Indonesia and Korea will enhance Joko’s creativity and will be the best way to introduce Indonesian films to global audiences while accelerating the Southeast Asian film industry as well,” said Yeonu Choi, senior vp international production for CJ.

Aside from Crazy Rich Asians, which has grossed over $164 million worldwide, Ivanhoe’s recent releases include the three-part series Ghoul, a Hindi-language thriller produced by Ivanhoe, Blumhouse Productions and Phantom Films which was released via Netflix India on Aug. 24.

Ivanhoe is the foreign-language film division of Los Angeles-based financier and producer SK Global. SK Global's latest feature, Greta, was acquired by Focus Features following competitive bidding from multiple studios at the Toronto International Film Festival over the weekend. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), the thriller stars Isabelle Hupert and Chloe Grace Moretz.