Actor Nicholas Tse teams up with Digital Domain to create content, special effects studio

New venture will focus on visual effects services, new media content for mainland audiences

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 January, 2016, 8:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 January, 2016, 8:36pm

Digital Domain Holdings, which operates the world’s biggest independent special-effects company, is teaming up with Hong Kong actor and entrepreneur Nicholas Tse Ting-fung to drive its expansion into mainland China, the world’s second-largest movie market.

Tse will serve as chairman of the newly created company called DDPO, a subsidiary of Digital Domain, once the Hong Kong-listed firm’s acquisition of the popular celebrity’s post-production services business on the mainland is completed.

“Moving forward, DDPO will be the platform for all our production deals in Greater China,” Digital Domain chief executive Daniel Seah Ang told the South China Morning Post Monday.

Tse would be responsible for growing Digital Domain’s visual special effects, computer graphics, virtual reality, 360 panorama video recording and digital human rendering services for mainland Chinese cinema, TV, commercial advertising, concerts and sports events.

“There are ample business opportunities in the Greater China region, especially for media, entertainment and technology,” Tse said.

Shares of Digital Domain were up 6.1 per cent to close at 44 Hong Kong cents Monday, following the company’s noontime announcement at the JW Marriott Hotel in Admiralty.

In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, Digital Domain said it has agreed to buy 85 per cent of the issued share capital of Lucrative Skill Holdings from owners See Corp and Tse.

Through DDPO, Digital Domain will purchase all of Hong Kong-traded See’s 60 per cent interest in Lucrative Skill for HK$95 million.

It will issue about 87 million shares, worth HK$40 million, as payment for the 25 per cent stake of Tse, who will retain a 15 per cent equity shareholding in that company.

Lucrative Skill is the holding company for Post Production Office, which has operations in Beijing and Shanghai.

Founded by Tse in 2003, Post Production provides special effects and animation services on films, TV shows, music videos and advertisements, as well as internet and mobile applications content.

In 2014, Tse sold 60 per cent of Lucrative Skill to See for HK$122.5 million worth of new shares.

“I believe our global clients will see this [Post Production] acquisition as advantageous for them. Digital Domain can become their bridge to China,” Seah said. “We plan to integrate our operations as soon as possible so we can face clients together.”

He said Tse’s company has worked for big-budget, special effects-intensive Chinese movies and earned acclaim in the mainland advertising sector, with clients that include Apple, HSBC and McDonald’s.

Digital Domain runs award-winning movie visual special-effects studio Digital Domain 3.0, which also provides services to major commercial advertisers like Nike and Apple.

The firm is now expanding into virtual-reality content amid efforts by firms like Google and Samsung Electronics to grow the global market for virtual-reality headsets.