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“SMART” Deal for Xing Xing Digital and Pelagius Entertainment

by on June 20, 2014


BEIJING, CHINA, JUNE 20 — Beijing Based Xing Xing Digital and L.A. Production Company Pelagius Entertainment announced today an international co-production for the animated movie SMART. Budgeted at $22M, the adventure comedy will be directed by John A. Davis (JIMMY NEUTRON; THE ANT BULLY) from a script by S.D. Katz and David Freeman. This is Davis’ first feature film since the 2006 release of THE ANT BULLY, when he took time off to explore his other interests, photography and astronomy. “I have kept an eye out for the right kind of script that fits my sensibility and SMART arrived with funding in place and a way to work in the fastest growing movie market in the world.”

SMART is a screwball, animated comedy about an emotional robot that forms an unlikely alliance with two abandoned pets to stop the nefarious plans of an evil toy manufacturer.

According to Lifeng Wang, CEO of Xing Xing, the challenge in co-productions is to create stories that cross the intersection of Western and Eastern tastes and styles. “Chinese audiences have selectively enjoyed Hollywood animated movies. We have learned from the failures and successes at the local box office and even without a North American release, the local box office can support appropriately priced animated movies that meet the high standards of international productions.” Xing Xing was committed to doing original feature animated movies back in 2008. “But it really did not make economic sense before 2012,” says Head of Development Katz, “because the audience in China needed to reach a threshold of consistent $40M box office successes.”

This explains why Pelagius founders, Joe Fries and Natalie Khoury, made the decision to enter into a co-production. According to Fries, “The revenue contribution from China really changes the formula for independent production.” Khoury added, “The most important factor in any co-production is finding the right partner. Xing Xing has taken an early lead in developing strong Hollywood relationships and successfully bridging East/West business styles. That was a major factor in our decision to co-produce SMART.”

Xing Xing Digital is a Beijing based animation studio creating television and motion picture projects for a global audience. With television co-productions WILD ANIMAL BABY EXPLORERS and THE SECRET MILLIONAIRE’S CLUB WITH WARREN BUFFET on air, Xing Xing will be bringing SMART to audiences in 2016, the first in a slate of international family pictures.

Pelagius Entertainment has a currently active feature and television development slate. In the past, they’ve produced the award-winning Focus Features release TALK TO ME, starring Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor; and the award-winning PBS documentary ADJUST YOUR COLOR: The Truth of Petey Greene, also narrated by Cheadle, about America’s first “shock jock.”

Pre-production for SMART begins in Los Angeles in June 2014 with the bulk of animation production to be performed at Xing Xing studios in China. The movie is slated for an international theatrical release in 2016.

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