Tencent-Backed Original Force Opens Hollywood Animation Unit

Original Force, an animation studio backed by China’s Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., announced plans for a Los Angeles-based feature film unit.

The company started production on three animated features and plans to make at least one major computer-generated film every 18 months as part of its expansion in Hollywood, according to a statement Wednesday. Distribution and other arrangements weren’t disclosed.

Original Force is one of a growing number of Chinese investors in Hollywood. Tencent, China’s second-largest Internet company, is a strategic investor. Some Chinese companies, including Huayi Brothers Media Corp. and Fosun International Ltd., have invested in startup studios while others, like Dalian Wanda Group Co. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., have invested in individual U.S. films.

“After years of successfully working as a studio-for-hire, Original Force is creating its own content and global IP and we believe we have an inaugural slate that will resonate all over the world,” Sandra Rabins, co-president of Original Force Animation, said in the statement.

Original Force has 1,000 employees worldwide and was founded in 1999 by President and Chief Executive Officer Harley Zhao. It has specialized in animation for video games, such as “Grand Theft Auto V,” according to the statement.

The Los Angeles production office will be led by former DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and Sony Corp. executives Penney Finkelman Cox and Rabins, who have worked on films including “Shrek” and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

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