China's DMG Entertainment sign 9-figure movie development deal with comic publisher Valiant

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Despite what non-fans may think, there’s more to the comic book world than just Marvel and DC. The Big Two may be, well, the big two in the industry, but there are several other publishers – like Image Comics, Dark Horse Boom! Studios and more – that have been putting books that are just as, and sometimes even better than their more widely known offerings. And in 2012 another name entered that arena: Valiant Entertainment. And they did it with a reboot.

Begun in the 1990’s, Valiant Comics, as it was then called, boasted a huge stable of popular characters, some of which were prime fodder for the video game market, which resulted in Valiant being bought over by then video game publishing giant Acclaim. But when Acclaim shut down in 2004, Valiant mostly went under with it. Fast forward to 2012 and Valiant Comics relaunched as Valiant Entertainment, bringing back revived versions of their popular 90’s comic book characters – plus some new faces – as well as a goal to establish itself as a proper entertainment institution. To that end, it set up movie development deals for some of its properties: Harbinger, Archer and Armstrong, Bloodshot and even a Shadowman adaptation penned by popular scribe J. Michael Straczynski. Those deals haven’t really done much since then though, but that will probably be changing soon.

According to CBR, Valiant has signed a massive deal with Beijing-based production studio DMG Entertainment that could be quite the game-changer. The deal consists of two phases: Firstly inject Valiant with a eight-figure sum of capital to continue their existing developments, and then secondly, put up a further nine-figure sum to produce live-action Hollywood tentpole movies, TV series and more set in a shared universe based on their properties.

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As Darryn pointed out recently, China is currently a huge market in the world of movies, something that several high-profile studios have realized as they tried to tap into it. And DMG is one of the biggest players in the Asian market when it comes to producing movies. The rapidly rising company have handled the Chinese distribution of such big profile movies like Twilight and RED, and most recently they co-produced such Hollywood blockbusters as Transcendence, Looper, Iron Man 3 (which included entire scenes shot in China using Chinese actors acting opposite Robert Downey Jr. that were only included in the Chinese release of the movie) and the upcoming Wake. So yeah, they know what they’re doing.

Valiant Chairman Peter Cuneo and Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani respectively had this to say about the deal.

“Valiant’s iconic stable of intellectual property and world class management team coupled with DMG’s unmatched skill with entertainment brand building in China make a formidable partnership. We will look forward to introducing some of the most popular superheroes of all time to the world’s fastest growing market across all media forms.”

“Today marks one of Valiant’s biggest milestones yet with a huge step towards bringing the Valiant characters to the big screen and forging the foundation of the first truly international cinematic universe. By bringing Valiant’s biggest heroes to theaters around the world in concert with our new partners at DMG, we look forward to making Valiant not only an iconic name in comics, but global entertainment as well.”

DMG CEO Dan Mintz echoed their enthusiasm for the deal, also reiterating the potential for this to be a huge deal on the global market.

“Global markets, like China, offer the greatest opportunities for monetization from merchandising, licensing, as well as revenues from film and television properties. Comic superheroes are the most lucrative and sought after IP for movie franchises, so taking a stake in the last independent massive comic universe is a strategic investment for DMG that will produce movies and TV that are both appealing and relevant to a global audience. We are excited by the opportunity to bring these incredibly engaging characters and their stories to the big screen.”

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With that kind of money and clout behind them, Valiant could become a serious contender in the whole superhero movie business. They may not have the character brand recognition that Marvel and DC do – although Shadowman already kind of has a built-in fanbase thanks to a popular 1990’s video game – but they do have over 2000 characters , many of which are seriously intriguing and original. And as Marvel themselves proved with Guardians of the Galaxy (and even the original Iron Man, if you think about it), as long as the characters are great and well written, then lack of familiarity can easily be overcome.

Now I have not read nearly enough of Valiant’s books over the years (I guess this a good enough reason to fix that), but what I have read I have been very impressed with (“X-O Manowar” and “Archer and Armstrong” were particularly good). Since relaunching in 2012, the publisher has been a bit of an indie critical darling, earning lots of praise and awards for their stories and characters, so they definitely have a stable that can support the type of shared movie universe that everybody is pursuing now – especially since the Valiant comics book universe is known for how coherent and impressively interconnected it is. Hopefully DMG learns from their time partnering with Marvel and develops this one organically and with a well-thought out gameplan, and doesn’t just adopt the “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks” approach of DC and Sony.

Last Updated: March 10, 2015

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