China’s Huayi Hires Joe Aguilar to Head Wink Animation Division

Kung Fu Panda 3
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Joe Aguilar, former head of production for features and TV at Oriental DreamWorks, has been appointed as CEO of Wink Animation, a new, wholly-owned animation division at China’s Huayi Brothers Media.

Aguilar, who has credits including “Kung Fu Panda” and “The Croods” will head the Shanghai-based division for Huayi.

Markus Manninen, a visual effects supervisor with credits including “Shrek The Musical,” “The Croods” and “Over The Hedge,” is to be Wink’s artistic director.

The company will set up a creative center to produce animation, initially for the Chinese market, where local and imported animated content is growing in popularity. The box office this week is headed by Disney Animation’s “Zootopia.” “Kung Fu Panda 3,” co-produced by Oriental DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation, recently broke the box office record for a Chinese-made animated feature.

Thereafter Wink will also develop global animation features. Wink aims to develop four global animation features every year, and expects to release its first movie in 2017, Huayi said.

Huayi say it expects the division to announce other hires of veteran animation staff with Hollywood experience, including alumni from Paramount and DreamWorks.

“Animation movies can more easily transcend the limit of culture and age, and it is easier to develop series of movies and merchandise. Therefore, Wink Animation can enrich the company’s IP three major businesses. It is also a breakthrough for Huayi’s strategy of internationalization,” said Huayi Brothers’ vice chairman & president, Wang Zhonglei.

Huayi has previously invested in other animation projects now in the pipeline. “Rock Dog,” in which Huayi was a co-developer, is to be released in July this year. “Blazing Samuri,” a family animation comedy co-produced by Huayi Brothers, Mass Animation, Cinemation and GFM Films, will be released on Aug. 4, 2018 in both North America and China.

Aguilar said that the potential for animation in China is huge, but competition is intensifying. ” In order to success, there are two key points. The first point is to grasp China’s ‘content wealth.’ Chinese culture is more and more popular in the global market, and can produce infinite original stories with Chinese elements. Creatively this is what we will focus on. The second point is to emphasize international way of expression, which makes the movies globally more acceptable.”

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  1. Rex says:

    “Chinese culture is more and more popular in the global market”? Really? More prevalent, maybe, but popular? Hmm. One BIG problem here is that everything that represented “Chinese culture” for the better part of the 20th Century came from HONG KONG. That’s the Chinese culture that is STILL largely represented in the west, despite Mainlanders moving here and co-opting it as if they’d been living that way for decades when in reality they were living in a Communist quagmire. Furthermore, the “infinite original stories” that can come out of China can ONLY be rooted in the era BEFORE the various Great Leaps Backward — during which the country produced NO popular culture that can be revived for today’s audiences, local OR global — or the era of the past thirty years (though realistically even less than that), an era of unrivaled greed, growth and corruption. And they really think the world is eager for endless animated tales from either of these eras. Granted, pre-1949 probably does offer up a lot of story ideas, but the global, non-Chinese public is already well past being tired of one live-action period epic after another, so aside from the same concepts filled with talking animals — which Kung Fu Panda already owns — I doubt there’s as much demand as the people quoted in this article want to believe there is?

    • anon says:

      I recall Mao’s image was made into an pop icon by Andy Warhol. New opera ‘Nixon in China’ played on Broadway. Maoist quotations, i.e. ‘a revolution is not a tea party ‘ and ‘women hold up half the sky” were quoted by liberal progressives in the west. A 1970s white american boutique was even named ‘Cultural Revolution’. While you might not want to hear this, Maoism was very influential for revolutionaries in poor countries around the world before China ditched Maoism for capitalism.

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