Oriental DreamWorks, DreamWorks Animation’s joint venture with Chinese studios China Media Capital, Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Alliance Investment, announced five new films on Monday that mark a shift toward live-action and China-based creative.
When DreamWorks initially announced its Chinese joint venture in 2012, Oriental DreamWorks was billed as an animation-first studio with its first scheduled feature, “Kung Fu Panda 3,” produced as a collaboration between the DreamWorks Animation team in America and Chinese filmmakers abroad. After two years , however, the studio has shifted its aim into TV production, live-action films and even an entertainment complex in Shanghai. Now Oriental DreamWorks has signed development with three Chinese studios that will provide writer and director teams for five new films, four of which are live-action, Variety reports.
“We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to support local talent here in China and create original, high-quality films made for Chinese audiences. These three development deals represent leading local companies that we are proud to partner with,” Oriental DreamWorks Chief Creative Officer Joe Aguilar said in a press release.
Oriental DreamWorks’ biggest partner in the deal is Dreams of Dragon Pictures, which signed a multifilm agreement to produce Chinese-oriented content. Helmed by Christopher DeHau Lee, Dreams of Dragon Pictures is located jointly in Beijing and Los Angeles and previously partnered with Hollywood as a financial backer for the Wachowski Siblings’ “Cloud Atlas.”
Dreams of Dragon and Oriental DreamWorks have struck a deal to produce three features, including an untitled historical action epic from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” scribe Wang Huiling. The two also have plans to create a comedy and a martial arts action film. Fewer details are available about the later films, though Screen Daily notes that the untitled marial arts project is set to have “cutting-edge visual effects with advanced choreography.”
Oriental DreamWorks has also announced plans to work with Chinese producer-director Teng Huatao, who previously directed the successful romantic comedy “Love is Not Blind.” Huatao is onboard to direct an animated adaptation of an unnamed Chinese folk tale. Ba Yue Chang An, who previously wrote the 2013 romance “The Stolen Years,” is set to pen the script.
Finally, Oriental DreamWorks plans to team with Chinese producer Zhang Jizhong to adapt the classic 16th-century Chinese novel “Journey to the West” for English audiences. Zhang has previously adapted two of China’s other Four Great Classical Novels, “Water Margin” and “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” for China Central Television.
“The classic adventure story will be transformed into an international action film integrating cutting-edge visual effects technology with an English-language script to bring China’s legendary hero to the world,” Oriental DreamWorks said in a statement.
Last year, a comedic adaptation of “Journey to the West” subtitled “Conquering the Demons” broke single-day box office records and grossed over $200 million. Zhang was not involved with the production.
Meanwhile, Oriental DreamWorks is set to debut its first features next year. “Kung Fu Panda 3” is expected to hit theaters around Christmas 2015. The studio’s first live-action feature, an adaptation of the popular Chinese novel “The Tibet Code,” does not yet have a release date.