‘Ajisaka’ Marks Debut for $100 Million Animation Slate From Indonesia’s MSV Studio (EXCLUSIVE)

MSV Studio / MSK Pictures

Indonesian firm MSV Studio is well underway on production of “Ajisaka: The King and the Flower of Life,” the first of three hugely ambitious animated films it will work on this year.

MSV Studio is the animation division of MSK Pictures, which itself is part of the larger, Indonesia-based Amikom Group. Since 2015, Amikom says it has invested $20 million into the research and development of computer animation technology. Having readied its proprietary — and rapid — methods, it now plans to invest $100 million developing, producing and distributing up to 10 animated feature films over the next seven years.

MSK Pictures is led by Ario Sagantoro, producer of “Merantau,” “The Raid: Redemption” and “The Raid: Berendal,” the hit Indonesian action films written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans.

Deploying a $15 million production budget, “Ajisaka” tells an original story, recalling ancient times when the world was inhabited by three races: humans, Raksha (giants), and Vidya (who are half human, half angel). The Raksha hold sway over the enslaved human population and the Raksha king hopes to prevent the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy that foretells the rise of an ordinary human leader who will end his reign and unite the world in peace. But that leader, Ajisaka, has already emerged and will attempt to end the king’s brutal reign with the help of a Vidyan.

The film is being co-directed by M. Suyanto, Aryanto Yuniawan and Marco Basalmo. Balsamo is writer and executive producer of the Albanian cop drama “The Brave.” Suyanto is best-known as writer and co-director of the animated adventure “November 10th” and as executive producer of the Indonesian horror film “Tumbal: The Ritual.” California Pictures executive Steven Istock (“A Warrior’s Heart,” “Strike One” and “Scavengers”) is also producing.

Principal photography, animation and character development began on the film in January 2020. The producers are currently casting Asian and Hollywood voice talent, with a view to completing production later this year. Rights sales are being handled by MSK in the Cannes Market.

MSV’s second 2022 production, “Land of Mercy” is adapted from the best-selling novel of the same name by China-based author Fan Wen and is being produced in collaboration with Hwallywood Media and Arts in Singapore. Directed by first-timer Keng Leck, its crew includes animation experts Tod Polson (“The Book of Life”) as production designer and Kompin Kemgumnird (“Adventure Planet,” “The Blue Universe”) as animation director.

MSV’s third 2022 production, “Golden Snail,” will be premiered exclusively at Indonesia’s largest cinema chain 21 Cineplex Group.

With its vast population and large internal market, Indonesia has long been a country of barely realized potential for the film industry. A monopolistic theatrical system is only slowly being broken down and a significant class of independent film distributors has not yet emerged. Local producers are expected to self-release.

Indonesian firms have provided animation sub-contract work for overseas films and series including the Lego movies and “The Adventures of Tintin.” But the country’s animation sector has been slow to develop given that local TV broadcasters have long preferred to import ready-made content.

Now, Indonesia’s live action and animation sectors are developing faster as producers lean into the country’s trove of mythology as source material, as government recognizes and begins to support the creative economy and as more cinemas are built.