Technicolor, Shanghai Film Group form JV

Shanghai facility will be Technicolor's second in China

SHANGHAI -- Technicolor and the Shanghai Film Group on Sunday established a joint venture company to serve booming demand in China for post-production services in filmed entertainment and advertising.
Technicolor CEO Frédéric Rose and Ren Zhonglun, president of SFG, one of China’s leading film studios, signed the agreement on the first day of the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival.
NYSE- and EuroNext-listed Technicolor and state-run SMG will offer China’s film, TV, animation and advertising producers digital post-production services ranging from the visual effects increasingly seen in boxoffice hits and TV commercials, to the forensic watermarking used to try to limit widespread copyright infringement.
The joint-venture comes at a time when many Western media companies are looking east for new market opportunities to offset tough conditions at home.
In the first quarter, Technicolor reported its entertainment services revenues were down 12% due to slower demand. Meanwhile China produced over 400 films in 2009 and theatrical boxoffice gross rose 43% to $909 million, a trend that is expected to continue improve this year.
“The growth of China’s film and TV industry are well known and add to the potential of such a joint venture in an emergent market desiring more and diverse content,’’ Rose said.
The Shanghai-based joint-venture will set up shop in the coming months with a few dozen employees.  It is Technicolor’s second operation in China.  The first, established in Beijing in 2008, has done work on the films of Feng Xiaogang (“Assembly,” “If You Are the One”).
Despite the rapid growth of China’s entertainment industry many Chinese filmmakers say they are playing technical catch-up to Hollywood.
At a film festival forum on Sunday, Feng said that at this stage in his career as one of China’s leading directors, his relationship with Hollywood was “purely technical” and that he found the help of New Zealand and South African post-production companies “very helpful” and “necessary.”
“I cannot leave post-production to local [Chinese] entities that are state-run, technically backward, poorly paid and have no incentives to do better,” Feng said, adding that investment was no longer an object. He works primarily with Huayi Brothers, China’s first publicly-listed studio.
SMG’s Ren, who has long cooperated with Hollywood filmmakers such Steven Spielberg (“Empire of the Sun”) and Rob Cohen (“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”), said that China’s film industry “needed to act with confidence but must never be too proud to learn.”
“We are looking forward to benefit from Technicolor’s technology, industry know-how and credibility in the area of content creation on a global scale,” said Ren, echoing the desire of many Chinese studios to produce a film of high enough quality that it will sell overseas, a feat few before have accomplished.