Auckland-based Huhu Studios has announced a deal with Qingdao-based DeZerlin Media to co-produce five features. Watch the Skies will be the first title made under the agreement.
The deal is expected to be worth US$60 million and will see Huhu create over 70 new jobs in Auckland to service the work. Huhu founder Trevor Yaxley told the Herald he expects the deal to continue beyond the five features announced as the two companies have worked together previously on TV shows.
Huhu has arrangements with other studios on the Chinese mainland and is a partner in the AnimazeHuhu studio in Taiwan.
Huhu is currently in production with China Film Animation on Beast of Burden, the first official feature film co-production between NZ and China. That film is intended to be the first in a 17-title deal.
The Huhu-DeZerlin deal is one of a number of screen-industry events and announcements made during Prime Minister John Key’s visit to China this week. As well as Huhu’s new agreement, NHNZ announced new co-production projects with China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
The biennial NZ Film Festival in China is also screening in Beijing, Qidong and Shenzhen this month, presenting a programme including Paolo Rotondo’s Orphans & Kingdoms which is also on release here. A separate programme of films plays the Shanghai New Zealand Film Festival next week.
This week, the NZFC has Chris Payne and Lulu Hansen in China at the Beijing International Film Festival and Market, where Jake Mahaffey’s Venice-winner Free In Deed plays in the BJIFF Panorama line-up.