Imagi chief resigns after Astro Boy fails to fly

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 November, 2009, 12:00am

Imagi International Holdings, the Hong Kong-listed maker of the recently released animation film, Astro Boy, has announced the resignation of its acting chief executive after less than six weeks in the job.

The resignation of Ting Chuk-kwan follows the disappointing performance at the box office of Astro Boy, Imagi's latest film.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Imagi said: 'Ms Ting confirms that her resignation as executive director and acting [chief executive] is based on her advice to the board of the need to consolidate leadership and to provide the company with strategic direction through the appointment of a permanent [chief executive], and she has therefore offered her resignation and ceased to be a director.'

It said Phoon Chiong-kit, the deputy chairman, had taken over the role of chief executive.

The film set an opening weekend box-office record on the mainland for a computer graphics-animated movie, taking in 40 million yuan (HK$45.4 million). Its performance in the important US market was about US$7 million during the first weekend and US$3 million during the second.

The film cost US$65 million to make and a further US$40 million to market and distribute.

Imagi's share price has fallen sharply since the film opened in the US on October 23 from 39.6 HK cents to 18.7 HK cents yesterday. It is an even further drop from the stock's recent peak of 60 HK cents in June.

Imagi emerged from its financial difficulties at the beginning of the year when it ran out of funds. There were key changes to the board and a rights issue and a share placement followed, which together raised US$25 million.

The firm was looking to Astro Boy to lift its fortunes. It plans to broaden its product away from blockbuster films to shorter animated cartoons, targeting mainland audiences.