FilMart: Ambitious Starry Entertainment Launch Defies China Slowdown

Ambitious Starry Entertainment Launch Defies China
Patrick Frater

A whopping 19 projects spanning across films, TV series, animations, VR and more are in the pipeline for Starry Entertainment, a newly established Chinese studio with a startup capital of $29 million (RMB200 million) and a financial capacity of $100 million.

Highest profile among the 19 is the $30 million “Hero’s Journey to the West,” an animated version of the classic Chinese tale “Journey to the West” featuring the famous Monkey King character. Starry has enlisted former Disney animator Chris Bradley as director and Marvel Studio character designer Walter A. McDaniel as the art director. A-list Hollywood stars are being scouted as voice talent for the English version of the film, scheduled for release during the Lunar New Year of 2019.

Starry also recently acquired McDaniel’s Beijing-based media company Red Dragon, according to Jon Chiew, former head of global business at Huace Films and now Starry’s COO and Hong Kong branch CEO.

Headquartered in Shenzhen with offices in both Hong Kong and Beijing, Starry Entertainment unveiled at FilMart on Wednesday an ambitious plan to pool a variety of resources across the show business spectrum to create a “one-stop shop” offering a wide spectrum of entertainment products.

The principal investor of the company, which has six subsidiaries, is Guotai Junan Securities, a Chinese securities companies founded in 1992. The two companies have signed an initial public offering memorandum as Starry Entertainment’s first step toward its goal to be a publicly listed company in mainland China within five years.

“We will create and develop content. And we will find partners and distributors, and also a lot of my friends want to invest, sometimes in the company and sometimes in individual projects,” said Chiew.

Starry has formed a partnership with the U.S. distributor and investor Crimson Forest for international releases of its productions.

Another film project is “Asia Pacific Elimination Service”, a story about some retired action film actors, starring Thai martial artist and actor Tony Jaa and Taiwanese-American actor David Wu. It will be produced on a budget of $12 million, with production expected to begin by the end of 2017.

Other projects include “Crystal Panda,” an animation movie targeting children, and a 36-episode detective TV series.

The establishment of the new studio comes at a time when box office takings in China have slowed markedly. But Starry’s official launch during Hong Kong’s FilMart had a distinctly bullish feel. With some 200 people in the room, it took over the ballroom at the Grand Hyatt hotel, it boasted glossy corporate vides, organizational charts and on-stage interviews with talent from a selection of the upcoming projects.

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