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China’s Original Force Animation Launches into Int’l Feature Production

Veteran animation executives Penney Finkelman Cox and Sandra Rabins to lead the Chinese animation company’s expansion into Hollywood with three features currently in production and an ambitious plan to complete a new feature every 18 months.

Culver City, CA -- Original Force, one of China’s leading digital animation studios backed by Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, has launched a new motion picture division and initiated production on three animated feature films.

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.

Sandra Rabins

Finkelman Cox and Rabins serve as co-presidents of Original Force Animation and are partners with Original Force president and founder Harley Zhao on the newly-launched animated feature division. The company seeks to produce at least one major CG feature film approximately every 18 months.

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 DWA’s 2011 Academy Award-nominated feature How to Train Your Dragon.

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).

Penney Finkelman Cox

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,” Zhao said in making the announcement. “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 Surfs 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 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.

Source: Original Force Animation

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.