Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crest animation studio; First Indian company to have completed a full 90-minute animation film

Crest Animation Studios has completed the production of its first 3D animated stereoscopic film Alpha and Omega (A&O). The movie will be released through Lionsgate Family Entertainment in October this year across 2,200 theatres. 

“We are the first Indian company to have completed a full 90-minute animation film, and the movie is due for release in October 2010,” said Crest CEO AK Madhavan.

The movie is an animated comedy about two mismatched wolves and features the voices of well-known artistes like Justin Long, Hayden Panetierre, Christina Ricci, Danny Glover, Dennis Hopper and Larry Miller. This is a part of a three-film deal with Lionsgate. The second project Norm of the North is likely to be released in 2012.

A&O, directed by Anthony Bell and Ben Gluck, has been produced through the special purpose vehicle (SPV) route, which helped in derisking Crest Animation. By doing so, A&O becomes one of the first films in India and among a small number globally, where the producers have shared the risks by involving various stakeholders before the release. In the Indian context, selling rights of distribution, music and merchandising are some ways of derisking.

The financing of A&O has been done by US-based hedge fund DE Shaw, which owns a 25% equity stake in the SPV. The balance 50% has been taken by the distributor Lionsgate, while 25% remains with Crest.

Avatar, a recent blockbuster, too, used the SPV route. Here, 60% of the equity was reportedly picked up private equity players, Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Media, with the rest being shared by News Corp and Avatar’s producer, James Cameron.

Industry trackers said it would cost anywhere between $80-100 million to produce an animation movie in the US. It would be a third of that in India. Crest began work on A&O in April 2008.

A PwC report said the Indian animation industry is worth Rs 1,500 crore and growing at 20% each year. This is on the back of high-end outsourced work from international studios, apart from the increased demand of animated content in the film and television industries.

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