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Starlight Media and Lion Forge Animation Sign Co-Production Deal

Companies enter into multi-year/multi-project joint venture to bring both existing and new IP projects to the Chinese market.

Starlight Media, Inc. (Starlight), has entered into a multi-year/multi-project joint venture with David Steward II’s Lion Forge Animation studio to co-finance and co-produce a slate of original animated films as well as projects based on Lion Forge IP and broader cultural IP.

The agreement with Steward II’s studio, which produced this year’s Oscar-winning animated short Hair Love, follows Starlight’s ongoing deals with top tier filmmakers as part of a $100+ million development fund. Starlight Media operates under the leadership of CEO Peter Luo with the company based in Beverly Hills, CA.

The companies will work together to produce and introduce Lion Forge Animation’s existing IP in China, develop new intellectual properties for the Chinese market, and explore traditional Chinese stories and IP to develop innovative remakes and derivative content for exploitation throughout international markets.

The IP holdings of Lion Forge are extensive and include comics, graphic novels, original content, and celebrity affiliations, all of which lend themselves to transmedia, transcontinental storytelling in feature film and short form formats.

For each project under the agreement, Starlight will maintain distribution, licensing and merchandising rights in the Greater China region (including Mainland China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Macau Special Administrative Region and Taiwan), while Lion Forge Animation will maintain distribution and licensing rights in the rest of the world.

The first two projects from this new alliance will be a re-imagining of Journey To The West as a feature-length animated film based on the historical Chinese novel of the same name, and an original animated short film inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on humans and other species. The two companies will collaborate on the development and pre-production of the projects with the animation being done at the Lion Forge Animation studios in St. Louis, Missouri. 

“We operate on the premise of championing diversity, so crossing boarders to collaborate with partners like Starlight Media is a move we’re very happy to make in the spirit of achieving a desired content slate that reflects diverse voices and stories,” commented Steward II.  “Aligning with Peter and the Starlight team on this joint venture together feels natural because we all share the same goals and philosophy when it comes to creating content. Lion Forge Animation is committed to establishing a strong brand identity that equates to the best animated projects in the world and this strategic partnership allows for greater economies of scale with a premier partner in Starlight that is among the most dynamic and visionary companies in the industry.”

“We have a great deal of admiration and respect for the incredible work that is being done out of Lion Forge Animation and are very excited about this new multi-year, multi-picture partnership that will allow us to create groundbreaking content with family friendly messaging,” commented Luo. “We want to be in business with Lion Forge Animation because we share a common vision, not just on taste and preferences of films, but on the execution of a business model that will bring high quality, very entertaining films to the marketplace.”

“This partnership will allow us to bring the highest quality Hollywood content to the Chinese audience, as well as local language adaptations, and merchandising opportunities,” continued Luo. “The China film industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in the world and we are excited to work with David and the Lion Forge Animation team, who not only have strong passion for the Chinese market, but also respect and understand the differences and uniqueness of the local audience and ecosystem in China. Our partnership will leverage the resources and strengths of both companies to deliver the highest caliber content to a global audience.”

Given the relevance of the COVID-19 animated short, production is being fast tracked for an April start. Development of Journey to the West is set to begin at the same time.

Launched less than a year ago, Lion Forge Animation has contributed to the growth of Lion Forge IP with TV series and feature film adaptations. The studio is part of Steward II’s holding company Polarity, which houses media businesses including the Lion Forge comics publishing unit. Steward II has been putting resources behind his vision of expanding the market for comics and comic-related pop culture to new age groups and demographics since the early 2010s. He has built a portfolio of titles and imprints that feature characters and creators from a wide variety of backgrounds, extending his vision and ethic to the larger media landscape with an organization that can orchestrate content development, production and distribution across different channels.

Steward II is widening the diversity of creative voices available in the animated space. The company’s goal remains in line with what he and his team has accomplished in publishing, to showcase a variety of authentic voices and experiences through their work, whether created internally or through partnership with top talent.

Source: Starlight Media