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DreamWorks eyes Korean animation partnership

2005/07/01 | 194 views | Permalink | Source

DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said Korea's movie industry is one of the most important markets for the studio which produced such blockbuster animation features as "Shrek" and will look to strengthen cooperative ties with local animators.

"It is extraordinary that a single film can sell 10 to 11 million admissions in a nation of 45 million people", Katzenberg told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. He visited Seoul to promote his new animation film "Madagascar", a computer-animated comedy, with Tom McGrath, one of the film's directors.

Katzenberg said DreamWorks is talking with its Korean partner CJ Entertainment to work on a locally produced animation project in the longer term, a move that is fitting given what he calls the "incredible transformation" of the country's film industry.

DreamWorks chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg (left) and Tom McGrath, one of the directors of "Madagascar", an animated feature to be released on July 14 in Korea, at a news conference Wednesday. [Yang Sung-jin / The Korea Herald]

He expressed surprise at the thriving filmmaking sector of Korea, which is emerging as a new hub in Asia, as well as at the sophisticated and ever-expanding multiplexes that draw young viewers.

Katzenberg said that DreamWorks animations have been "wonderfully received here", while stressing that "the future of the animation is very bright", though "Madagascar" failed to meet the expectations in terms of ticket sales and reviews in the U.S. market.

"The thing so special about animation is that it's pure imagination. Everything that you see in 'Madagascar' is something that somebody had to recreate. I think there is something special and very unique about that experience", he said.

Katzenberg also noted that his studio is a sort of United Nations in the animation world, as animators and staff come from all over the world. About 1,100 creative staff at the company speak 36 different languages at DreamWorks' campus in Los Angeles, he said, adding that the influence of Asian animation has been getting stronger in recent years.

Tom McGrath, who also participated in the animation as a voice actor for Skipper, the leader of a gang of penguins, said the new animated feature involves "the compelling idea of the power of friendship".

Opening on July 14 in Korea, "Madagascar" revolves around four animals: a lion, zebra, giraffe and hippo from New York's Central Park Zoo. The story gets rolling when they happen to Break Out of the zoo and stumble onto an island with real wild life and unexpected elements.

The original animation stars the voices of popular Hollywood actors Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and David Schwimmer. For the Korean version, local actor Song Kang-ho dubbed the voice of the lion.

By Yang Sung-jin

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