Taiwan’s ambition to ramp up production for overseas Chinese-speaking audiences has been given another boost by Studio76, a newish firm with expanding plans.
The Taipei-based company has had a busy two-year history producing original web shows and short dramas. It is now planning a slate of new titles with hybrid storytelling, both on-screen and in manga format.
Studio76 told Variety that it is planning to produce four titles in the second half of 2020 and eight in 2021. Each will be a 100-minute feature that can either be streamed as a digital movie or edited into a four-episode mini-series. Average budgets are $250,000 – $300,000.
Founded in 2018, Studio76 is backed by Taiwan-based music streaming software firm KKBOX, Taiwan’s National Development Fund for Cultural Content Investment Projects and ABC Dream Ventures, a subsidiary of Japan’s Asahi Broadcasting Group.
The company operates as the main showrunner for and developer of intellectual properties before commissioning them for production. The company also handles international distribution.
Four titles have already been produced this year. Among the latest releases are youth basketball drama “Fly the Jumper,” which was launched in mid-July, and crime thriller “Kill For Love,” slated for a release on Aug. 28. Both titles are streaming on Taiwan Mobile and the NASDAQ-listed Chinese streamer Bilibili.
While film and TV productions in many parts of Asia have been halted by COVID-19, Studio76’s CEO and managing partner Dennis Yang says the pandemic has had “only has a minor impact on Taiwan.” Many productions in the territory had returned to normal by mid-April. “Some directors, actors and actresses now have their hands full until next year,” said Yang.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, Netflix, HBO Asia and Fox Networks Group had all turned to Taiwan companies for production in the past couple of years. “Taiwan has a good supply of talent in all areas. There is also the freedom to create,” Yang said.
Follow-ups to “Fly the Jumper” are part of the Studio 76 project pipeline, but they will take on two different formats. First will be a 100-page single-volume manga to be released in the first quarter of 2021. That will be followed by a digital movie sequel, targeting the second or third quarter next year.
Last month, the Taiwan government primed the pump for more export-targeted production. It launched Screenworks Asia, a joint venture between the Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) and Catchplay, a local film distributor and streaming service. Screenworks Asia aims to produce 100 hours of original content each year.