CULVER CITY, Calif., Aug. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Original Force, one of China's most prominent and successful digital animation studios, has launched a new motion picture division and initiated production on three animated feature films, it was announced today by Harley Zhao, President and founder of Original Force. To support the company's expansion into Hollywood, Original Force has opened a production office in Los Angeles and recruited two of the industry's most respected animation production veterans, Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox, who are distinguished for having built start-up operations at DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures Animation.
Finkelman Cox and Rabins serve as co-presidents of Original Force Animation and are partners with Zhao on the newly launched animated feature division. The company seeks to produce at least one major CG feature film approximately every 18 months.
One of the most accomplished and successful executive teams in the industry, Rabins and Finkelman Cox have overseen such beloved animated films as Shrek, Prince Of Egypt, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Open Season, and Surf's Up, among others. At Original Force, they have already tapped a team of veteran artists, writers and filmmakers for their inaugural slate, among them Christopher Jenkins, producer of the recent DreamWorks Animation hit Home, John Eng (Rugrats Go Wild), and Bob Bendetson ("The Simpsons").
Marketing expert Peter Adee, who formerly was president of marketing at Universal Pictures and MGM, is consulting with Original Force on the launch of their initial titles.
Established in 1999, Original Force has become a CGI leader creating high-quality state-of-the-art animation for a wide range of global television and gaming clients including Disney, DreamWorks Television, Sony, Tencent, Activision, and Electronic Arts, among many of the world's leading entertainment brands.
"There is no one more talented, skilled or experienced in leading animated films than Sandy and Penney," said Zhao. "Each has had an extraordinary career and their track record co-running DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures Animation has given them a completely unique perspective on building a contemporary animation studio from the ground up. They have a love and respect for great stories and relatable characters that is incredibly infectious and which drives our production philosophy. Original Force is proud to have two partners with such impeccable credentials guiding our film team."
"When Harley approached us with this unique opportunity, he told us he wanted to build a new creative home for the world's best storytellers, writers, directors, animators, digital artists and designers," said Finkelman Cox. "Original Force Animation is a true global operation with a world perspective and whether you are an established filmmaker or an emerging artist with a distinctive and fresh new voice, we want you to think of our company as a new destination where your best work can be nurtured and flourish."
"Harley has organically grown his business from a small start-up of four to a thriving world-class animation services and production facility that is operating in five cities with a talented team that is nearly 1,000 strong," said Rabins. "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."
Original Force is currently in production on Duck Duck Goose, the story of the most unlikely family ever. The film is directed by Christopher Jenkins (Home) from a screenplay by Christopher Jenkins and Rob Muir. Jenkins previously collaborated with Rabins and Finkelman Cox on the acclaimed motion picture Surf's Up when the duo launched Sony Pictures Animation. Finkelman Cox and Rabins are producing the feature along with Viola Chen.
After he's grounded by an injury, a high-flying bachelor is saddled with two wide-eyed orphans as they come face-to-face with the dangers and beauty of the outside world in the funny and touching animated feature, Duck Duck Goose. Our free-wheeling hero, Peng, rejects the community of his tight-knit flock of geese in an attempt to live life on his own terms. But after he narrowly rescues two young ducklings, Chi and Chao, from an eccentric but deadly cat named Banzou, the two latch onto the Goose like a parent; and with a paralyzing winter on the horizon and the departure of both their flocks, Peng agrees to look after the ducklings out of fear his injury might be discovered by Banzou, and other predators who would prey on a goose who cannot fly. The makeshift trio embarks on a beautiful and dangerous journey through mountains and lakes, bamboo forests, marble caves and deep river valleys to reach their respective flocks. On the way, Peng must learn to care for the two ducklings despite his independent attitude, all the while evading the hungry and relentless Pallas Cat, who'll stop at nothing to claim the ducklings he feels entitled to. Peng's biggest challenge is learning to shed his selfish ways and become the responsible "parent" no one ever thought he could be, including himself.
Original Force is also in the early stages of pre-production on OldZilla, written and directed by Bob Bendetson ("The Simpsons"), and co-written with Art Everett ("Married… With Children"). King Saurus, the self-proclaimed "Lord of the Stomp," is unwilling to admit Father Time is nipping at his heels. He wears a scale toupee and spends his days watching newsreel footage of his past destructions. Finally, he leaves his cave and moves into Fading Fast (a senior community in the Bermuda Triangle built exclusively for the "vintage" Chinese monster). The place is run by Miss Petfarkin, a monster who's obsessed with order and rules. King Saurus is stunned by the listlessness of his fellow behemoths and attempts to liven things up. He ultimately convinces Icarose and Birdy, an old married monster couple, to travel with him to Atlantic City to interrupt the grand opening of Rump Mart, the mega-store of mega-stores. This one last attempt at terrorizing ends up biting these senior citizen behemoths in the butt when Ronald Rump, the tyrannical owner of Rump Mart, brings in King Saurus' old nemesis, the elderly Chinese monster hunter, Dai Anu. Anu, along with his daughter and granddaughter, arrives in America in order to battle and finally defeat the Lord of the Stomp. The film is produced by Finkelman Cox and Rabins.
Original Force has an active development slate that includes Where The Mountain Meets The Moon, based on the Newberry Honor Book by Grace Lin, and Riding Giants, to be adapted by Greg Johnson from his original manuscript.
Another Original Force Animation project in early production is QQ Speed, a co-production with Tencent Holding Limited, that is based on the most popular online racing game in China. QQ Speed, is a thrilling action-adventure. John Eng (Rugrats Go Wild) is developing and is directing the motion picture. In the film, a brother-and-sister racing team risks everything to protect their late father's legacy. After legendary racer John Speedman dies during the high-stakes Super Speed Cup 500 race, his son Matt raises his younger sister, Orange, and keeps the doors of famous Speedman garage open. Fourteen years later, Orange has grown into a willful 19-year-old with her father's passion for fast cars. With the business in trouble, foreclosure seems inevitable until Orange decides to enter the Super Speed Cup 500 and vie for enough cash that would solve their financial woes. At the wheel of her father's prototype car, Orange is guided by an experimental computer that speaks with John's voice, personality and racing experience, giving the young woman her first chance to bond with the father she barely knew. But in order to win, she will have to defeat not just the other drivers, but her father's old rival, Munikula and his son Tristan. QQ Speed is a co-production of Original Force and Tencent, maker of the "QQ Speed" video game.
Ratchet And Clank is a feature film that is a co-production with CNHK, Rainmaker and Blockade. Ratchet and his robot pal Clank, the stars of the popular Sony PlayStation® sci-fi/adventure game, go back to their roots in this fun and action-filled origin story about the two unlikeliest heroes in the Solana Galaxy. When the pair discovers a nefarious plot to destroy every planet in the galaxy, they enlist a team of colorful warriors known as The Galactic Rangers to stop the evil Chairman Drek from carrying out his deadly plot. Along the way, they learn the value of true friendship, what it really means to be a hero and the importance of knowing yourself. Ratchet and Clank features the voice talents of Bella Thorne, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye and Jim Ward.
ABOUT PENNEY FINKELMAN COX, CO-PRESIDENT
A multifaceted producer with more than a dozen credits in both live-action and animated features, Penney Finkelman Cox draws upon her extensive background in creative and physical production and her years of experience in the executive ranks to develop and produce high-profile entertainment projects.
In May 2002, Finkelman Cox, along with longtime producing partner Sandra Rabins, started Sony Pictures Animation for Sony Pictures Entertainment. As executive vice-president, she shepherded the development and production of the new division's projects, including its first two features, 2006's Open Season and 2007's Academy Award®-nominated Surf's Up, as well as later hits Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania. She and Rabins also brought the animated series "The Boondocks" to Sony and Cartoon Network, and developed Open Season 2 for DVD.
Finkelman Cox began her animation career at DreamWorks SKG as both a producer and an executive, starting the animation division with Rabins in 1994 and producing The Prince of Egypt, which won an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song. Finkelman Cox served as executive producer on the Academy Award-winning blockbuster Shrek and on DreamWorks' first computer-generated film, 1998's Antz. In addition, she worked with Aardman Animations on its first stop-motion feature, 2000's Chicken Run, and was executive producer on Joseph: King of Dreams, DreamWorks' first direct-to-video animated release, also in 2000.
Finkelman Cox came to animation with a background in live-action features, having produced Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael and 'Til There Was You. She served as the executive producer for James L. Brooks' I'll Do Anything, and co-produced Brook's Academy Award® winning Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News.
Under her and Rabins' production company, Patchwork Productions, Finkelman Cox has also developed a slate of features that includes the 2006 cult sensation Snakes on a Plane, starring Samuel L. Jackson. Other projects currently in development are At Large, to be directed by Ritchie Mehta, Naked Shakespeare, to be directed by Jon Amiel for Voltage Pictures, and Enchantment, based on the novel by Orson Scott Card.
A graduate of Barnard College, Finkelman Cox began her career as a press assistant for the Joffrey Ballet and went on to manage a number of nonprofit dance, theater and music companies. She began focusing on film when she was accepted to the Directors Guild of America Assistant Director Training Program in New York.
Finkelman Cox is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation (ASIFA). She's also a professor at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes in film producing. She is also on the Board of Directors of Dance Camera West, an organization devoted to dance in media.
ABOUT SANDRA RABINS, CO-PRESIDENT
Sandra Rabins is one of the most respected live-action and animation film executives in the entertainment industry. Along with producing partner and fellow Original Force Co-President Penney Finkelman Cox, Rabins creates, markets and distributes top-tier original content in animation and family entertainment for worldwide markets.
In 2010 Rabins joined DreamWorks Animation Television as co-executive producer for "Dragons: Riders of Berk," a series on Cartoon Network for which she has produced 21 aired episodes. Rabins had previously helped build the studio's animation division from scratch and was instrumental in the purchase of PDI, helping to build it into a digital-effects giant. She produced DreamWorks' first traditionally animated feature The Prince of Egypt, as well as its first computer-generated film, 1998's Antz. In addition, Rabins served as executive producer on the Academy Award®-winning box office hit, Shrek.
From 2002 to 2009 Rabins was senior executive vice president for Sony Pictures Animation, a new animation division of Sony Studios that she launched with partner Penney Finkelman Cox. During her tenure she developed and produced the hit comedies Open Season in 2006, 2007's Academy Award®-nominated Surf's Up and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, as well as acquiring and developing the hit Hotel Transylvania.
From 1990 to 1993 Rabins was senior vice president of Production and Finance for Buena Vista Pictures, where she worked on more than 60 films, including The Joy Luck Club and Blank Check. She was also an independent executive producer on the 1995 summer hit Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, for Walt Disney Pictures.
A Hollywood native, Rabins began her career at Paramount Pictures. In 1985 she moved to Walt Disney Studios, where she was responsible for establishing the production entities to create and animate Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. She was also instrumental in helping Pixar establish itself as a digital film entity to create Toy Story, and oversaw traditional animation as well as Theme Park Films.
Rabins and Finkelman Cox have an independent production entity, Patchwork Productions, which executive produced the 2006 horror cult hit, Snakes on a Plane. Patchwork Productions is currently developing projects with studios in Japan and China, and will release its first movie in 2016.
Rabins served as Production Consultant on Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, releasing in 2015. In 2014, Rabins produced the award winning short Last Days of Ivory with Kathryn Bigelow directing, created to grow awareness of the killing of elephants for ivory.
Rabins is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as the Producers Guild of America (PGA) and the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation (ASIFA).
ABOUT HARLEY ZHAO
Harley Zhao is the president and CEO of Original Force, which he founded in Nanjing, China, in 1999. From its humble yet ambitious beginnings when Zhao had a staff of four and did much of the art himself, Original Force has expanded to a global operation with offices in Los Angeles, Nanjing, Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai.
Zhao's concept for Original Force was borne out of his powerful desire to make movies from a young age. He taught himself animation while still in college at Southeast University. After graduating in 1996, he spent several years in IT at the Agriculture Bank of China. But his strong creative impulses led him to strike out on his own. After starting Original Force, he surveyed the animation landscape in China and discovered there was a limited market for animated film production. So he focused the studio on producing high-quality 3D art and animation for game developers and publishers, eventually leading Original Force to become one of the foremost animation outsourcing companies, producing work for Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Activision, Sony, Rockstar Games, Disney and many others.
Original Force made its first foray into Hollywood as the lead animation studio for DreamWorks Animation's "Dragons: Riders of Berk," a television spinoff of its 2011 Academy Award®-nominated feature How to Train Your Dragon, which premiered in 2012 on Cartoon Network.
More recently Zhao has refocused the company's efforts on developing and producing original feature films for worldwide audiences. In addition, Original Force has partnered with studios in the U.S. and China, including Sony, DreamWorks and Tencent.
ABOUT ORIGINAL FORCE
Original Force is dedicated to telling compelling, visually stunning stories through digital animation. The studio recently opened a facility in Los Angeles led by Hollywood production veterans Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins, who have overseen such animated motion pictures as Shrek, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Surf's Up and The Prince of Egypt. Under their auspices, Original Force is developing and producing feature films both on its own and in partnership with major content providers in the U.S. and China. The studio is actively building relationships with visionary filmmakers and artists and exploring innovative approaches to creating animated entertainment with broad, global appeal.
Founded in 1999 by President and CEO Harley Zhao, Original Force has established itself as one of the preeminent animation houses in the video game arena, providing top-quality content services to global clients including Microsoft, Activision, Electronic Arts, Sony, Disney, Rockstar Games and Tencent. Its art team has created in-game animation and effects for dozens of top-selling titles including "Grand Theft Auto V," "Need for Speed: The Run," "League of Legends" and "The Sims 3."
With nearly 1,000 employees across its Los Angeles, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Chengdu offices, Original Force prides itself as a major animation studio with production facilities in both the U.S. and China. The company made its first foray into Hollywood when it was chosen by DreamWorks Animation to serve as the lead animation shop for "Dragons: Riders of Berk," the television spinoff of the studio's 2011 Oscar®-nominated feature How to Train Your Dragon. The series premiered on Cartoon Network in 2012 and netted a 2013 Annie Award for Original Force director John Eng.
Chinese digital-entertainment giant Tencent is a strategic investor in Original Force. A $200-billion global conglomerate whose subsidiaries include Internet, mobile, instant-messaging and music-distribution companies, Tencent also owns significant stakes in such successful U.S. game makers as Activision Blizzard ("Call of Duty®"), Riot Games ("League of Legends"), Epic Games ("Gears of War"). Tencent is developing a feature film with Original Force Animation based on their game "QQ Speed."
For more information visit the company's website at www.of3d.com
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SOURCE Original Force Animation