China Film Group, Dragoia Media, Movistar Plus, Atresmedia Cine Team on ‘Dragonkeeper’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Animated feature marks a big screen makeover of the first of Carole Wilkinson’s six-book series

China Film Animation, part of the China Film Group, will team with Spain’s Dragoia Media, Movistar Plus and Atresmedia Cine to produce “Dragonkeeper,” a CGI family film based on the first of a six-book series by Carole Wilkinson.

Set to be announced Friday at the Beijing Film Festival, the most ambitious co-production to date between China and Spain underscores the Middle Kingdom’s escalating importance for European animation.

“Dragonkeeper” also marks a dive into animation by two of Spain’s most important fiction forces, Movistar Plus, the pay-TV arm of giant telco Telefonica, and  Atresmedia Cine, the film production division of broadcast network Atresmedia.

Envisaged as the first movie in an international brand and film franchise, “Dragonkeeper” will be directed by Spain’s Ignacio Ferreras, who won an Annecy Jury Award and best screenplay Spanish Academy Goya for “Wrinkles,” an animated feature that went on to be distributed in Japan by Studio Ghibli. China’s Zhang Bo will co-direct.

Set during the Han Dynasty in a “magic, epic and classic” China, according to a statement by its producers, the first “Dragonkeeper” first installment turns on the adventures of Ping, a slave girl so humble that she thinks she doesn’t deserve a name. Yet she finds the courage to become a true Dragonkeeper, helping the ancient last imperial dragon, Long Danzi, in its quest to transport a dragon egg across China to the coast, the only place it can hatch.

“I am thrilled that ‘Dragonkeeper’ is being made into a movie, and especially pleased that there is such strong Chinese involvement, ensuring that the ancient China represented in the movie will be authentic,” Wilkinson stated.

“Dragonkeeper” is produced by Manuel Cristobal, Larry Levene, Huang Jun, Gabriel Arias-Salgado, Axel Kuschevatzky, Mikel Lejarza and Mercedes Gamero.

The screenplay has been written by Ferreras, Wilkinson, Rosanna Cecchini, Pablo Castrillo and Xiamping Wang. The score will be composed by Zhiyi Wang.

“Dragonkeeper” is also backed by Atresmedia, which has free-to-air rights for Spain. Movistar Plus will air the film on pay TV.

In a collaboration of the major animation players in Spain, early visual development was created in The SPA Studios, directed by Sergio Pablos, creator of “Despicable Me.” It has been completed by BASE FX in China. Animation will be carried out in Illion Animation Studios (“Planet 51”) in Spain and by China Film Animation and several studios in China.

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