Dark Horse is partnering with Chinese firm Visionary Vanguard Associates to co-finance media projects and bring more Dark Horse products to China, it was announced late Friday.
Stanley Cheung, chairman of Visionary Vanguard, will join the Dark Horse board. Cheung is the former chair of Disney in China, so he knows the US entertainment industry and is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Mike Richardson, the co-founder of Dark Horse, and owner, will continue on as CEO.
The timing of this release in the Friday afternoon news dump may have obscured its importance a bit. Dark Horse is rumored to be on the block for quite a while, and bringing in a Chinese partner is one way to bring in a lot of new capital.
It also fits in with other US comics companies that have sought outside funding, including Valiant with DMG, Boom with Fox, IDW as part of its parent company, now called IDW Media Holdings.
The move leaves few sole comics publishers that are purely private businesses – Dynamite, Lion Forge, Titan and of course the co-op Image spring to mind, as well as smaller art comics publishers.
VVA has little internet footprint in English, and Cheung is also not too well known, although you can find a few profiles from his Disney days.
A lot of speculation about this deal flew over the weekend, mostly questions about how much of a stake in Dark Horse VVA purchased. I guess we’ll find out!
Dark Horse Entertainment, L.L.C. and Vanguard Visionary Associates are proud to announce their new partnership to grow the Dark Horse brand internationally in both its media and pop culture businesses.
The new venture will allow Dark Horse to fully finance development of properties from Dark Horse’s extensive content library as well as cultivate original ideas and acquire material for film and television, then co-finance the production of those projects. The deal will also focus on bringing the company’s award-winning publications and product lines to new international markets, particularly China.
“We are extremely pleased with our new relationship with the people at Vanguard Visionary Associates,” said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse CEO and founder. “We’ve had great success over the years, funding our company internally and watching it grow from modest beginnings through the hard work of our amazing staff. This new arrangement will allow us to accelerate our growth and extend our reach worldwide. The deal will offer resources that will take our company to the next level. It will also present new opportunities for our employees as well as the talented content creators we work with.”
“We see a great fit between our companies,” stated Vanguard Visionary Associates Chairman Stanley Cheung. Cheung is the former Chairman of the Walt Disney Company in Greater China. “Our goals are similar, and we feel that by combining our efforts we will be able to enhance Dark Horse’s visibility internationally on the way to making it a leader in the film business, while also making its publishing and product offerings available to new fans around the world.”
Cheung will join the Dark Horse Entertainment board while Richardson will continue as the company’s CEO overseeing its operations.
Dark Horse established its storied reputation by publishing work by many of the comic industry’s leading talents. Its film division has produced over 30 film and television projects. Current projects include The Umbrella Academy and Polar, both appearing on Netflix in early 2019, and a reboot of Hellboy, directed by Neil Marshall and starring David Harbour, scheduled for release in April 2019. The company is also in post-production on a new pilot for SYFY starring Alan Tudyk and directed by David Dobkin, based on the DarkHorse comic Resident Alien.
Dark Horse Entertainment L.L.C. is made up of Dark Horse Comics L.L.C., established in 1986; Dark HorseStudios L.L.C., established in 1992; and its retail chain, Things From Another World L.L.C., established in 1980. Vanguard Visionary Associates is a Hong Kong based company specializing in entertainment and pop culture products.