DreamWorks hopes sequel will pave way for Chinese joint venture to release new movies each year
“DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. head Jeffrey Katzenberg has spent years attempting to create a Chinese sequel to his Hollywood studio, and a key test of that effort is coming this week, when “Kung Fu Panda 3” opens in the U.S. and China.
The Hollywood veteran says he flew to China at least once a month for the past five years, passing out bilingual business cards to theater companies, cultural ministers, movie producers and politicians—a massive undertaking to establish a foothold for his family-entertainment company and its Chinese joint venture, Oriental DreamWorks.
DreamWorks Animation has weathered significant storms in the past year, following a series of flops that have weighed on the company’s financial results and spurred layoffs. Now Mr. Katzenberg is trying to turn those frequent-flier miles and countless meetings into long-term returns in one of the world’s most unpredictable markets.
The U.S. studio is hoping its newest release will pave the way for Oriental DreamWorks to release new movies each year, some of them aimed at Chinese audiences and others intended for world-wide release. That puts the studio in competition with new homegrown animation houses that also want to capitalize on the nation’s rapidly growing movie market.
“They want to have their own successes,” said Mr. Katzenberg in an interview. His company’s smaller-budgeted films will compete with local productions like “Monster Hunt,” a live-action and animation film with Chinese actors and cartoon monsters that grossed a record $381.8 million in China last year.
China’s overall box office climbed to 44 billion yuan ($6.7 billion) in 2015, up 48.7% from a year earlier, and is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest film market in 2017, according to film consultancy Artisan Gateway…”