Cook Studios Signs $500M Deal with Chinese Company

Dick Cook
Dick Cook

Dick Cook Studios, the namesake venture of one of Hollywood’s heralded nice guys, last month announced a $500-million production deal with Film Carnival, a Chinese movie company.
The burgeoning multimedia entertainment studio led by the former Walt Disney Studios chairman reportedly will adapt the best-selling “Ranger’s Apprentice” children’s book series into a film to be directed by five-time Oscar nominee Paul Haggis.
Word that Film Carnival will
finance 100% of Cook’s projects came at the inaugural China-US Motion Picture Summit, which is intended to become a regular event fostering dialogue between executives, filmmakers, writers, technology leaders and corporate delegates from both nations.
Dick Cook Studios was launched last year, when Cook announced a $150-million investment from CITIC Guoan, a branch of China’s state-owned CITIC Group, whose involvement spans TV, tourism, publishing and sports.
Based in Los Angeles and reportedly employing a staff of about a dozen people, Dick Cook Studios is to handle development, production, worldwide distribution and marketing of movies.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times after the announcement in Grand Epoch City, China, Cook acknowledged that establishing a business presence in the nation has been challenging but that he’s committed to it.
“It is important for us, because this is such a dynamic marketplace,” Cook told the Times. “Things are changing so rapidly that it’s important to be nimble and quick and be able to have a plan in wet cement so that you can move things around and … figure it out.”
At Disney, Cook was credited for bringing the studio an “imponderable quality of decency,” according to a Business Week profile in 2003, which detailed Cook’s storybook ascent through the company. His first gig with Disney was in 1970, operating the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland.
After being named studio chief in 2002, Cook developed a reputation for letting filmmakers carry out their visions, which helped attract a diverse stable of producers and directors to Disney that included Kathleen Kennedy, Jerry Bruckheimer, Robert Zemeckis, Wes Anderson and Tim Burton.
Cook also was charged with working with the late Steve Jobs, the Apple chairman who was the majority owner and CEO of Pixar Animation Studio behind all-time audience favorites such as “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo.”
Cook famously bonded with Johnny Depp during work on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, when he supported the actor. Depp was an outspoken supporter when news broke of Cook’s abrupt departure from Disney in 2009. Depp told the L.A. Times then that he was shocked by the move, saying, “[Cook is] instantly trustworthy. And you generally don’t meet people at the studios you trust. He’s a rare beast.”
Depp added: “He will be somewhere and I will always look forward to working with him. I consider Dick a friend inside an insane system.”

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