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Ang Lee pushes through Hollywood company's investment in Taiwan

2011/12/31 12:27:19

Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) Taiwanese director Ang Lee has played a critical role in helping materialize the investment in Taiwan from Rhythm & Hues Studios Inc. (R&H), one of the world's top five visual effects companies.

The award-winning director made his acquaintance with R&H when he was shooting his latest 3D movie "Life of Pi," which he described as a mission impossible if it were not for R&H's high technology.

Lee revealed this in a pre-recorded film shown at a ceremony on Friday in Taipei to mark the beginning of cooperation between the Oscar-winning company and Taiwan's government and local companies.

Established in Los Angeles, R&H is planning to launch a NT$6 billion (US$198 million) investment plan in Taiwan next year, including a visual effects center in the southern city of Kaohsiung, a cloud computing data center in Taipei and a film fund.

"It has only been a cherished desire of mine for more than a year," said Lee. "Now seeing it come true makes me feel very happy!"

Taiwan should not be "left out," but should play a more important role in the world's movie industry, said Lee, who had planned to come back to Taiwan from New York to give his personal greetings, but could not make it.

"As a Taiwanese, I feel really proud that Taiwan has got everything and is capable of doing anything," the director said, adding that this cooperation will definitely put the country in a "better-known" position on the world stage.

Lee helped pull strings, but without the mutual efforts from Taiwan's central and local governments and related organizations, the investment would not have happened this smoothly, said Christina Liu, minister of the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD).

The CEPD first met R&H when it led a delegation in May to the United States to attract investment in Taiwan, Liu said.

After signing a memorandum of understanding in Taiwan late October, R&H filed an investment application on Dec. 16, which the National Development Fund will review next month.

The venture capital, titled "101 Films Fund," aimed to raise US$100 million. The fund will be used to co-finance and co-produce Hollywood movies over a six-year period, and the Kaohsiung studio the company plans to establish is expected to be involved in 10 Hollywood movies within five years, according to Liu.

This cooperation will not only be the driver of Taiwan's movie industry, but also a boost to Taiwan's digital content industry, she said.

Taiwan's digital content industry has grown dramatically over the past 10 years. The sector's output rose from NT$153.7 billion in 2002 to NT$522.5 billion in 2010, and it is expected to exceed NT$600 billion this year despite the global economic downturn, according to government statistics.

R&H has been involved in more than 130 Hollywood films, including "The Incredible Hulk," "Night at the Museum" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

It received an Academy Award in 1995 for "Babe" and in 2008 for "The Golden Compass."

(By James Lee)