By Patrick Frater@ Variety
Production is now under way on “Wish Dragon,” a major animated feature being made in China for Sony’s Columbia Pictures Film Production.
The film is a first feature for Base Animation, the new animation studio that is part of Beijing-based VFX firm BaseFX, and for Chinese super star Jackie Chan. Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media is a producer and co-investor, and Chan will voice characters in both the Chinese- and English-language versions of the finished picture.
The family-oriented film is being directed by Chris Appelhans (illustrator on “Coraline”) from his own original screenplay. The modern-day fairy tale picks up the moral challenges that emerge from the encounter between a boy and a dragon who is able to make wishes come true. Production is focused at Base’s new animation studio in Xiamen, southern China. The movie is targeting a 2019 theatrical release in China.
The U.S. voice cast includes “Fresh off the Boat” star Constance Wu, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jimmy Wong and Bobby Lee, alongside Chan.
“Our goal in developing the project and building the Xiamen studio was to make world class animation in China for China… and the world,” said producer, and Base principal Chris Bremble. “From the start, Chris Appelhans wanted the film made in China, with a strong Mainland China creative team, an international cast of talent, and a focus on the hopes and dreams of contemporary China.”
BaseFX established itself in China with a mission to provide world class effects to the Chinese film industry, which has grown in scale and sophistication in the past ten years. Along the way it has built a longstanding relationship with ILM, the corporate backing of China Media Capital, and collected a trio of Emmy Awards.
“Wish Dragon” marks a new focus on animated content for Sparkle Roll Media. Animation has been the fastest growing segment of the Chinese box office as local animated productions improving their creativity, craftsmanship, and technology. The company, is affiliated to state-owned Cultural Investment Holdings, and has some ten years’ experience of operating Jackie Chan-related brands. It has developed into an international and integrated film entertainment company with activities including film investment, production, marketing and distribution, television program production and distribution, talent agent, and large-scale activity management.
Academy Award winning producer Aron Warner (“Shrek”), worked closely with Appelhans developing the project. He brought the film to Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson.
The film is produced by Bremble, Warner, Chan, and Qi Jianhong. Executive producers include BaseFX board member Ian Sugarman, Sparkle Roll president Joe Tam, and Base Animation’s Sophie Xiao.
Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia is the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Sony Pictures that has co-production credits including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Cell Phone,” “Kung Fu Hustle,” and “Kekexili Mountain Patrol.”