EXCLUSIVE: Tech titans Wayne Chang and Paul English have launched Wicked Magic Productions. After seeding Silicon Valley startups, they will do the same in entertainment, and produce and co-finance features. Their first is Coup D’Etat, a satire that has been completed and will be shopped shortly for distribution with a cast that includes Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Jason Biggs, Seth Green and Odeya Rush. Political turmoil prompts a British-Caribbean dictator to flee his island nation, and is hidden by a rebellious teenage girl in suburban America. With his mentoring, she resolves to overthrow the mean girls hierarchy who rule her high school.
Both Chang and English hail from Boston — the company name is a giveaway — and still spend much time there, though Chang has fallen in love with Los Angeles and recently bought a home in the Hollywood Hills as they get entrenched in the business. Their Silicon Valley credits are formidable. Chang is a co-founder in startups that are now collectively valued at over $10 billion and he has been an angel investor in 50 companies. He most recent startup, the mobile venture Crashlytics, was acquired by Twitter, and other ventures include JetSmarter, Dropbox and Napster. English is co-founder of the travel service Lola and was CTO and co-founder of Kayak.com, which Priceline acquired in 2012 for nearly $2 billion. The duo hopes to find compatible ways to tie in their film projects to their tech ventures.
Chang said they got their first taste with Coup D’Etat, and his investment in the documentary Chasing Coral, which was acquired by Netflix after its Sundance debut. He was shown the Coup D’Etat script (Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse wrote and directed) by a friend in the tech space, and it seemed the kind modest risk for a well-cast film to get underway. “Paul and I considered it carefully and then jumped in,” Chang said. “We will now get deeper into it. We will be careful, but we tend to move quickly.” After years reading tech prospectus offerings, learning to absorb and evaluate screenplays was an adjustment, but they are moving at a deliberate pace.
They will not immediately set up a staff to develop projects, at first waiting to see scripts and packages on which they can become producers and financiers or co-financiers. “We love movies, and hope that we can bring our experience in the tech and digital fields to what we’ll do in Hollywood,” said Chang.
Said English: “Movies are imagination in action, and I’ve always enjoyed escaping into the latest thriller, psychological drama or foreign film. Wayne and I want to help make wicked good films together, by partnering with top and emerging talent in Hollywood and beyond.”