Deal reflects new 'superhero' world
Updated: 2015-03-10 11:22
By Amy He in New York(China Daily USA)
China's DMG Entertainment's new partnership with American comic book publisher Valiant Entertainment is a global marketing bonanza for the Beijing-based company, its CEO said.
"Global markets, like China, offer the greatest opportunities for monetization from merchandising, licensing, as well as revenues from film and television properties, DMG CEO Dan Mintz said in a statement.
DMG - co-producer of the 2013 blockbuster movie Iron Man 3 - jointly announced with New York-based Valiant on Monday that DMG is investing a nine-figure sum toward the production of film and television programs based on Valiant's library of superhero characters.
That is in addition to an undisclosed eight-figure sum of equity investment to help the publisher advance its international promotion efforts in film, television and licensing, the companies said in their statement.
"Comic superheroes are the most lucrative and sought-after IP (intellectual property) for movie franchises, so taking a stake in the last independent massive comic universe is a strategic investment for DMG that will produce movies and TV that are both appealing and relevant to a global audience," Mintz said.
"We are excited by the opportunity to bring these incredibly engaging characters and their stories to the big screen."
The deal also reflects a growing interest in superheroes from diverse backgrounds, said Dinesh Shamdasani, Valiant CEO and chief creative officer.
"We're able to reference and reflect the world as it stands today, so there's much more diversity in our characters, in their social and political views," he said.
"With the Valiant characters, there is a specific evolution that happens in comics: It comes from the time period in which the characters are created, and the majority of the DC universe was created in the 1930s, and they represent the sociopolitical climate of the '30s," Shamdasani said. "The majority of the Marvel characters were created in a nine-year period in the '60s, and again, they represent the sociopolitical views of the '60s.
"The Valiant characters were created, on the other hand, from 1990 up until the present day," he said. "We're very different from Marvel and DC in the sense that we are still creating characters that fans have embraced. We have less of the gender issues that Marvel and DC have."
DMG Entertainment co-produced Iron Man 3 with Walt Disney, and the movie grossed $121 million in China alone, more than a fourth of the film's $409 global box office revenue.
Audiences in China are "hungry" for superhero stories that they can relate to, and with the international box office making up a substantial part of superhero movies' revenue, "the time is right for a truly international superhero franchise", DMG President Wu Bing said.
Shamdasani said that superhero content is considered premier content in terms of how well the stories do at the box office worldwide. Audiences connect with the universal themes of good vs evil and the "pop culture escapism" that superhero movies often provide, he said.
Sony Pictures is currently developing one of Valiant's characters, Bloodshot, into a feature film with Original Film.
Chinese audiences are already reacting well to the Valiant universe, Shamdasani said. The first two issues of Bloodshot and Harbinger were released by Tencent on Sunday, and both have received thousands of downloads the past day. The issues were translated into Mandarin and available for free, and subsequent issues are available for purchase.