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Katzenberg takes DreamWorks to China

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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation is moving into China with ambitious plans to launch an Asian transmedia entertainment operation.

The China strategy will see DreamWorks form a joint venture with News Corp affiliate China Media Capital, and invest in Shanghai Media Group and Shanghai Alliance Investment to form the new family entertainment company, Oriental DreamWorks. The Chinese companies will take a 55 percent stake in the company, with DreamWorks holding the balance.

The new entity will have a wide remit: as well as animations and live action movies, it plans games, consumer products, and perhaps theme parks and live entertainment in the future.

The JV will launch business operations in Shanghai later this year using cash and intellectual property valued at $US330 million.

“Together with our partners in China, we look forward to building a first-of-its-kind enterprise to locally conceive, produce and distribute high-quality creative content and family entertainment experiences – not only for the people of China but also for related export markets,” said DreamWorks Animation‘s CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg.

China Media Capital holds a controlling stake in News Corporation’s China assets, including TV channels – Star (Xing Kong), Star (Xing Kong) International and Channel V (China). It is also behind Asia’s largest movie library, the Fortune Star movie library.

The new studio has already begun a recruitment drive in Hollywood and China and has plans to rival the resources of DreamWorks' HQ in Los Angeles, which has a headcount of around 2,000.

"Our objective is to build an animation studio that is competitive with what we’re doing here," Katzenberg said.

Staff are already working on over a half-dozen projects and they anticipate producing one animated feature film a year, with its first release set for 2016.

"This is going to actually create greater employment at DreamWorks here, more opportunities. I have literally, almost a hundred people at DreamWorks that have come forward to say that they would love to be a part of that studio and go to China for a couple of years, to educate, teach. From fine artists, animators, to technology people, there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm," he added. ®

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