EXCLUSIVE UPDATE, THURSDAY AM PT: Under its new partnership with Valiant, as reported Monday, DMG will mine the indie comic book publisher’s stable for characters to spread across film and TV properties aimed at a global audience. For those unfamilar with the stable, there are now two exclusive videos below the original post that provide some illumination.
PREVIOUS MONDAY 10:03 PM PT, The superhero universe just exploded. After setting up its character series Bloodshot at Sony and Shadowman and Archer & Arrow with The Mummy producer Sean Daniel a couple of years ago, Valiant Entertainment – the indie publisher of comic books and graphic novels with a library of more than 2,000 characters — has just partnered with Beijing-based studio and production company DMG Entertainment to develop their properties for motion pictures, television, publishing, and licensing.
The announcement was made via a Beijing press conference Sunday evening at the Kerry Centre in what they said was a deal where DMG has made “an eight-figure series C round of equity investment” in Valiant for international business development and “an additional nine-figure for film financing capital” to be used for production of film and television projects. They are looking to the stable of Valiant characters to create tentpole movies for distribution simultaneously in the U.S. and China.
And DMG does have a track record. In 2013, DMG co-produced and co-financed Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3– the highest grossing foreign film of 2013 and sixth highest of all time in China. DMG is currently co-producing high-octane thriller Autobahn starring Anthony Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Felicity Jones and Nicholas Hoult; and the extreme actioner Point Break, directed by Ericson Core. Both will be released this year worldwide. DMG’s other films include the sci-fi hit Looper, and the techno-thriller Transcendence with Johnny Depp (which sank like a stone at the box office), and some of China’s highest-grossing films, including No Man’s Land, Founding of a Republic and Go LaLa Go!
“I think our companies fit very well together. It’s interesting because the two companies, well, we are in very different worlds and when we sat down to talk about how we could work together, it was very exciting, because we realized that we had complementary skill sets and we’re both global brands. So one and one, in this case, equals three.” Valiant CEO/CCO Dinesh Shamdasani told Deadline. “Our fan base are the fan boys. DMG has been there for 20 some years and they’ve developed a really strong brand. We were able to bring these two global brands together.”
The two companies began talking in 2013 and had already been working with film partners Sean Daniel and Neil Moritz. Valiant did what Shamdasani called “a big roadshow” over a three month time period with potential partners all over the globe before deciding on DMG. “We started doing our own branding and we knew the next level was movies and TV because we wanted to get the larger fan base aware and emotionally invested so we needed able to control to a certain extent our characters to stick to the core. The concept should remain the same and we wanted to protect that and protect the core. At the end of the day we knew it had to be DMG. They were enthusiastic and understood the potential of what we had. They basically built the Marvel brand in China. It was successful before that, but we were really impressed with what they did with it.”
The agreement may be the first of its kind between China and a leading indie publisher of comic books. They are currently beginning development on television projects. Having covered marketing for many years, the first thing that comes to mind is Merchandising. The merchandising alone with a deal like this could be worth millions if properly marketed. To that end, DMG and Valiant will work together for China-focused licensing partnerships for Valiant comic book heroes running the gamut of categories: publishing, animation, online gaming, toys, apparel, live events, theme parks, and more. The focus will be to introduce Valiant’s to the Asia-Pacific region. Valiant’s characters also include X-O Manowar and Harbinger.
Established in 1989 by a host of comics creators, including former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter; Iron Man writer and artist Bob Layton; and writer and illustrator of Wolverine: Weapon X, Barry Windsor-Smith, the company is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. The company re-established itself in 2005 as Valiant Entertainment.
It’s currently run by Chairman Peter Cuneo, CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, COO & CFO Gavin Cuneo, President of Licensing, Promotions & Ad Sales Russell A. Brown, Publisher Fred Pierce and Vice Chairman Jason Kothari.
“Global markets, like China, offer the greatest opportunities for monetization from merchandising, licensing, as well as revenues from film and television properties. Comic superheroes are the most lucrative and sought after IP for movie franchises, so taking a stake in the last independent massive comic universe is a strategic investment for DMG that will produce movies and TV that are both appealing and relevant to a global audience,” said DMG CEO Dan Mintz. “We are excited by the opportunity to bring these incredibly engaging characters and their stories to the big screen.” DMG Entertainment China is publicly traded on the Shenzhen stock exchange.
“Valiant’s iconic stable of intellectual property and world class management team coupled with DMG’s unmatched skill with entertainment brand building in China make a formidable partnership,” Valiant Chairman Peter Cuneo said in a statement. “We will look forward to introducing some of the most popular superheroes of all time to the world’s fastest growing market across all media forms.”
“Audiences in China and the rest of the world are hungry for heroic stories that they can more easily relate to, and with the international box office accounting for the biggest piece of the total gross, the time is right for a truly international superhero franchise. DMG will bring its unique global perspective to the task of transforming the Valiant Universe into the first international comic-movie universe,” said DMG President Wu Bing in a statement.
Harbinger (do not adjust your sound, there is no audio on the videos)