China’s Turbo Film is to expand from movie distribution into visual effects provision for the film, TV and commercial industries. The company is in the process of opening a large facility in Wuhan, central China.
Turbo grabbed attention this week with emergence of its acquisition of rights to Cannes Film Festival closing title “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” But it has been in business since 2010 and has given China theatrical releases to some 20 foreign films. (The “Don Quixote” purchase was actually struck nearly a year ago.)
Turbo VFX is headed by Turbo group president Cai Jin and Nick Hsieh as its CEO. Hsieh is a former visual effects supervisor at BaseFX, working with ILM, who won a Primetime Emmy for “Black Sails.” The unit will have sales and front-end offices in Beijing and Hong Kong, with its main facility in Wuhan, where some 500 people are expected to be employed inside the next three years.
The production facility has received substantial local government backing in Wuhan, which is one of China’s leading university towns and where there are large numbers of animation graduates. In order to fine tune the skills of up to 200 students per year, Turbo VFX has also partnered with the Jackie Chan Film and Television Academy to set up a VFX training college.
As production budgets increase and Chinese audiences become more demanding, Chinese films are expanding their use of ambitious visuals, digital technology, and digital effects. Until recently, Chinese film producers have often sourced effects from South Korean and other foreign providers.
“The visual effects industry in China is very chaotic at the present time. Labor costs are high, but quality of work and efficiency is low. Our aim with Turbo VFX is to keep labor costs at a reasonable level while ensuring good quality work by creating an efficient and manageable work flow,” said Cai in a statement.
“We look to be the VFX partner for both Chinese projects and projects from outside of China, working with other top-level VFX studios and production companies. We are currently preparing and in negotiations with international projects from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Russia, India, and South Korea.
Turbo Film is also diversifying from distribution into film production. It is looking at large-scale action, disaster and fantasy projects, that can lean on the new VFX capability. The company has two major production in development, though was not ready to divulge details.
Turbo’s past theatrical releases include “The Artist,” “The Counterfeiters,’ and “The Man From Nowhere.” Currently on release is Russian-made animation “Snow Queen 3,” which has grossed $11 million to date.