Feb. 5 (NBD) -- The Chinese consortium led by Li Ruigang's CMC Capital Partners acquired full ownership of NBCUniversal's joint-venture animation studio Oriental DreamWorks on Friday.

CMC told NBD that changes of shares is proposed by the Chinese entity and agreed by its American partners. Both parties will continue to work on the new films. But the ownership of the IP of Kungfu Panda 3 wasn't diclosed due to commercial secrecy.

More close cooperation is expected

Oriental DreamWorks, founded in 2012, is the first Chinese-American film production company. The Chinese consortium took up 55 percent stake of this company and 45 percent for DreamWorks Animation, NBCUniversal's subdidiary.

Along with the deal, the Shanghai-based company was rebranded as Pearl Studio. CMC considered the name change as a new beginning for Oriental DreamWorks.

The company has learned about Hollywood's outstanding ideas as well as systems in film-making and has formed a mature team, said Zhu Chenghua, Oriental DreamWorks' first native Chinese CEO, adding that in the next years, the company expects to release its self-developed oriental films to audiences worldwide.

Clearly, Hollywood giants will not give up the vast China market. On behalf of the American shareholder of Oriental DreamWorksJeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, expressed the tremendous respect for Li Ruigang and CMC, saying that the group is looking forward to more opportunities to cooperate with the renamed company.

Zhu also told NBD that the company will work on its first worldwide release, Everest, which is set for the fall of 2019 and Universal Pictures will distribute the film outside China.

To Zhu, Oriental DreamWorks already has the ability to make films independently. The company has a creative hub with teams both established in New York and Log Angels. In such hub, the Shanghai team is responsible for the core part of the early film producing process, incorporating creative development and character design and in the later production process, the company will integrate the best talents along the global film industry.

However, it's difficult to tell at the moment whether Oriental DreamWorks can make Disney-quality films independently. 

A running-in period is inevitable for joint-ventures

As the market was bullish about the pilot Chinese-America film joint venture, Oriental DreamWorks reaped 330 million U.S. dollars in its first investment round. However, the "cross-border marriage" is hard to sustain.

According to Financial Times, CMC and Universal began clashing over strategic vision last year, putting Universal on course to offload its stake. But CMC Chairman Li Ruigang denied the rumor and said it was overstated.

However, it is undeniable that the joint-venture is experiencing a running-in period, during which the company saw 2 CEOs rpleced in its 6-year existence.

When asked how to avoid clashes in running a joint-venture, Li confessed that it cannot be avoided for any joint-ventures, no matter it is a technology-related, or a consumption-related company. Different teams with different cultures inevitably need time to fit each other.

As a fund investment company, CMC may consider selling its shares when getting enough investment return. With regard to the future plan, Li responded that investing in the cultural industry is different from investing in the internet-based industry because it takes longer time to deliver profits.

In terms of the Oriental DreamWorks, Li said currently the company is in talks with several overseas institutions and expectes to introduce more strategic investors in the future, Tencent Financial reported.

 

Email: tanyuhan@nbd.com.cn