STX Entertainment announced a new partnership on Friday with Alibaba Pictures to co-produce and co-finance global content using the UglyDolls intellectual property.
The groundbreaking deal includes the previously announced “UglyDolls” animated feature film, an animated TV series with Hulu, digital and print publishing, mobile and educational games, soundtrack and music, and merchandising and licensing programs covering toys, dolls, arts & crafts, collectibles and other ancillaries.
Alibaba, which boasts more than 600-million consumers across e-commerce, marketing, ticketing, digital media and entertainment platforms, provides STX with merchandising and consumer insights as well as a gateway into China.
“It is an honor to bring a company of Alibaba’s unparalleled reputation, high quality and considerable assets into the STX family,” said STX Chairman and CEO Robert Simonds in a statement. “After collaborating on a number of projects, including co-producing the upcoming action sci-fi film ‘Steel Soldiers,’ this new venture further deepens our relationship and provides an incredible platform for us to create universally resonant content for audiences around the world.”
STX’s push into animation comes with the experience of its film division leaders. STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson, prior to coming to STX, was instrumental in establishing Illumination Entertainment and created “Despicable Me” at Universal Studios, and Oren Aviv, who as previous marketing chief for Disney and Fox Studios, handled Disney Animation, Pixar and Blue Sky Films, and notably, the “Incredibles” franchise.
Alibaba Pictures established its overseas offices in Pasadena, California in 2016 to find stories to invest in, produce and share with the market in China, one that is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest movie market by 2022, according to Ampere Analysis.
“This partnership with STX on ‘UglyDolls’ is very important to us because it allows us to build out this beloved global intellectual property for years to come leveraging the strength of the entire Alibaba ecosystem,” Wei Zhang, President of Alibaba Pictures, said in a statement. “More importantly, the values that UglyDolls stand for — believing in yourself, acceptance of differences, and never giving up on one’s dreams — are universal and ones we are proud to promote through our work.”
The “UglyDolls” film is directed by animation veteran Kelly Asbury and features a cast of music superstars including Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, Janelle Monáe, Wanda Sykes, Emma Roberts, Gabriel Iglesias, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX, Lizzo and Pitbull.
STXfilms will release “UglyDolls” in the U.S. on May 3, 2019.