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Movie studios ‘need visionary investors’

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By Zara Nicholson

SOUTH Africa has the potential to establish world-class animation studios such as Dreamworks – but visionary investors are needed to take local stories to international audiences.

Following the success of animated movie Zambezia film-makers say the country has what it takes to compete with the best in the world.

Zambezia has become the second-most-successful African movie after The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Chief executive officer of Triggerfish Animation Studios Stuart Forrest said Zambezia, their first animation movie, made $5.3 million (R47m) in Russia compared to Ice Age 1 which made around $1.5m.

“What we need is visionary investors who recognise that the world has an appetite for first-class African product. We are at an exciting time as the digital revolution begins to touch film distribution seriously, and it’s a great time to be bringing our voice to the international community,” Forrest said.

The chief financial officer of Triggerfish, Jean-Michel Koenig, said finding local investors was a challenge.

“We are trying to get to local investors. We are looking for that Steve Jobs individual,” Koenig said.

“Zambezia found tremendous traction in Russia, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. It beat the Rise of the Guardians at the box office which is massive,” Forrest said.

Making Zambezia cost less than R20m, a fraction of the $150m budget for The Rise of the Guardians. Their next movie, Khumba, to be released later this year, has been sold to more than 20 distributors worldwide. Forrest said they were aiming to make $50m at the box office.

MEC for Economic development and tourism, Alan Winde visited Triggerfish yesterday to assess the challenges local film-makers face. Winde said it was vital for tourism to come on board as the British Embassy did with the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall.

zara.nicholson@inl.co.za

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