Singapore's Tiny Island Productions scores big animation deal

Dream Defenders, an animated series by Tiny Island Productions, was sold to more than 80 countries around the world.
Dream Defenders, an animated series by Tiny Island Productions, was sold to more than 80 countries around the world.PHOTO: TINY ISLAND PRODUCTIONS

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Tiny Island Productions has scored a major deal in Cannes, giving a big boost to the local animation industry.

At the entertainment content market Mipcom in Cannes, taking place from Oct 16 to 19, the entity Shellhut and Tiny Island Pictures will sign a memorandum of understanding to co-produce 10 feature films with WingsMedia, a member of Oriental Pearl Group and a wholly owned subsidiary of China's second largest media group, Shanghai Media Group.

Shellhut and Tiny Island Pictures is a joint venture between Tiny Island Productions and Thailand's Shellhut Entertainment, whose titles include Shelldon (2008 to present), which is about the adventures of the titular shellfish and his friends.

This is the largest animation film co-production deal in Asia, worth an estimated US$250 million (S$338 million). The 10 titles are the first Singapore-Thailand-China animation co-productions. Financing for all the films has been fully secured.

The first movie from the joint venture will draw on WingsMedia's sci-fi reality television series Starship MZ: 2049, which was launched in 2016, as well as on Tiny Island Productions' animated series Dream Defenders (2011 to present), in which twins Zane and Zoey battle the nightmare creatures of Dreamworld. It is expected to be released in 2020, with subsequent films to be based on fresh concepts and released annually.

Development and production will be led by an international team of animation veterans headed by director Paul Chung, who has worked on the animation in films such as The Jungle Book (2016) and Shrek (2001).

Through the deal, Tiny Island Productions hopes to groom and nurture local talents in intellectual property creation as well as business and production leadership in animation.

Mr David Kwok, chief executive officer of Tiny Island Productions, said in a statement: "Our goal is to create appealing characters and stories that will touch the heart of audiences in the East and West." He adds that Shellhut and Tiny Island will be talking with American and European partners and have more "exciting announcements coming soon".

Tiny Island Productions celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. It has gone from being a service provider to successfully creating its own content, with Dream Defenders sold to more than 80 countries around the world. Feature films for international markets is the next step.

Mr Kwok said: "We want to create high-quality feature films that can compete with the bests from around the world, films that would be considered for Oscar nominations. It sounds like an impossible dream, but that's a target we have set for ourselves."