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Katzenberg Touts ‘Tibet’ as He Targets Chinese Auds

Oriental DreamWorks' pic presented at Beijing fest

DreamWorks Animation topper Jeffrey Katzenberg was in Beijing to unveil “Tibet Code,” a swashbuckling project from its Chinese unit, Oriental DreamWorks, which is aimed firmly at the booming local market.

Katzenberg was accompanied at a news conference at the Beijing Film Festival by Han Sanping, chairman of the all-powerful China Film Group, who said “Tibet Code” is a great way of showing Chinese values, culture and morality to the world.

DWA’s “Kung Fu Panda” was adored by Chinese auds, but also unsettled movie mandarins here with the ease with which it interpreted Chinese history and culture and transformed it into a punchy movie with major B.O.

Since then the search has been on for a Chinese equivalent and Oriental DreamWorks’ topper Li Ruigang is hoping “Tibet Code” is the one. “It will be made to the same high standards as a Hollywood movie,” said Li, who was head of the Shanghai Media Group before he became CEO of Shanghai-based Oriental DreamWorks.

“The Tibet Code” series by He Ma is one of the most popular in China in recent years. It follows an expert on the Tibetan mastiff dog breed as he searches for ancient Buddhist treasure.

Oriental DreamWorks is aggressively chasing the Chinese market. As well as animation projects, it is also building a $3 billion cultural and entertainment district in Shanghai.

The choice of “Tibet Code” is potentially controversial, as the autonomous region of China is politically turbulent.

Many Tibetans want greater independence and accuse Beijing of trying to destroy Tibetan culture and colonize its people. Beijing insists Chinese rule has brought economic development and progress, and denies that it is trying to contain Tibetans’ ability to practice their religion.

Tibetan issues have wide support among Hollywood figures, such as Richard Gere, and China was angered by movies like “Seven Years in Tibet” and “Kundun,” which portray the Dalai Lama sympathetically.

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