US visual effects company behind Game Of Thrones looks towards China

Deluxe Entertainment, a visual effects company behind the visual effects of HBO's Game Of Thrones, is looking for partnership opportunities in China.
Deluxe Entertainment, a visual effects company behind the visual effects of HBO's Game Of Thrones, is looking for partnership opportunities in China. PHOTO: HBO

SAN FRANCISCO - Deluxe Entertainment, a United States company which makes visual effects for Hollywood movies and television shows such as HBO's Game Of Thrones, said it had hired an investment bank to look for partnership opportunities in China, the world's second-largest movie market.

The move comes as Chinese companies and funds step up their investments in US entertainment assets, having acquired companies ranging from acrobatic performance firm Cirque du Soleil to Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment.

"Deluxe is currently evaluating partnership opportunities in China as part of our ongoing strategy to grow and globalise the company," Mr John Wallace, Deluxe's chief executive, said in a statement to Reuters.

A spokesman for MacAndrews & Forbes, the operating company owned by billionaire Ron Perelman which owns Deluxe, said that Goldman Sachs Group Inc had been hired to assist in the effort.

Deluxe is hoping to find a partner that could provide both capital and new business opportunities in China for its creative services unit, the part of the company that provides sound mixing, film colouring and other post-production services for film projects.

This unit competes with Walt Disney Co's Industrial Light & Magic and France's Technicolor SA.

In 2016, China overtook the United States as the country with the largest number of movie screens, according to China's film and television regulator.

While its box office slowed last year, its share of worldwide movie ticket sales has been increasing steadily, and it is projected to overtake the United States and Canada in ticket sales within the next few years.

China contributed US$1.8 billion in ticket sales to Hollywood's 20 highest-grossing films of 2016.

As Deluxe's clients look to China to boost their box-office revenue, "it's only natural that Deluxe would expand along with them", Mr Wallace said.

Co-productions between US studios and Chinese studios are also becoming more common, which could boost demand for services that support the local industry. In December, Chinese theatres debuted The Great Wall, a movie partly filmed in China starring Matt Damon and produced by Legendary Entertainment - the Hollywood studio purchased by China's Dalian Wanda - along with China Film Group and others.

Wanda is also offering film credits to lure US productions to Qingdao, a city on China's eastern coast that is trying to become China's Hollywood.

REUTERS