CMC Takes Over Universal’s Stake in Oriental DreamWorks

Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital has taken full ownership of Oriental DreamWorks, the joint venture between CMC and DreamWorks Animation. The company is to be relaunched as Pearl Studio.

The company’s future has been in doubt for much of the past two year. That followed the underperformance of its only large scale animated feature to date, “Kung Fu Panda 3” and the sale of DreamWorks Animation to Universal and its parent Comcast.

In March last year, Variety exclusively reported that CMC had laid off 40 animators and was poised for restructuring. In September, the Financial Times reported that Universal had held talks about selling its 45% stake in Oriental DreamWorks to Warner Bros.

No financial terms were disclosed. In a statement, it was announced that NBCUniversal and its DreamWorks Animation, will continue to collaborate with Pearl Studio on its 2019 worldwide release of “Everest.” DreamWorks Animation’s film, television, consumer products and digital gaming businesses will now be part of NBCUniversal’s product offerings in China

Everest” tells the story of a girl who tries to bring a yeti from the Himalayas back to Shanghai is largely financed by Oriental DreamWorks. Jill Culton replaced Tim Johnson (“Home,” “Over The Hedge”) as director. Todd Wilderman continues to serve as co-director. The script was written by William Davies (“How to Train Your Dragon”). Pearl will handle the film’s release in China, Universal its outing in the rest of the world.

Pearl Studio will be led by CEO Frank Zhu and chief creative officer Peilin Chou.  The senior executive team also includes head of studio Dagan Potter, head of ancillary business PC Xu and head of operations Cindy Zhou.

“The animation market could not be stronger right now in China or globally. We believe Pearl Studio is in a very unique and enviable position to be a bold new independent voice in the animation community,” said Li, chairman and CEO of CMC.

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