That's what the Hong Kong animation studio is shooting for. And Business Week profiles the company's ambitious plans:
A year ago, Tim Cheung had one of computer-generated animation's dream jobs—working on the latest installment of Shrek for DreamWorks Animation SKG (DWA). Today, the 35-year-old Texas native works in an old warehouse district in a remote part of Hong Kong, helping film neophytes learns the do's and don'ts of how to make a movie featuring computer animation [for Imagi Studios].
Globalization raises its unlovely head. American animation staffers fly overseas to train their replacements, and we kiss the domestic industry goodbye, correct?
I don't think so. If it were just about labor costs, animation would be headquartered in Bangladesh instead of various producton hubs around the world, which include at least two in California.
Because the most important issue, first and last, is quality. It does your cause little good if you turn out a lower budget animated product that underperforms at the box office.
Before the [theatrical] release of TMNT [Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles], [Imagi]investors pushed up the company's stock price on the hope that the movie would be a big success. But once it was clear the film wouldn't be a home run, investors fled. Today, Imagi's shares are down 47% for the year, compared with a 40% increase in the benchmark Hang Seng index. From a high of HK$4.87 in January, the stock has lost 60% of its value.
This goes a ways in explaining why Imagi has opened a satellite studio in California. If you want to compete with the current kings of the roost [Pixar and DreamWorks], it's probably useful to hire staff that are from those places.
...[O]n Oct. 4, Imagi announced the hiring of Jakob Jensen—who had spent a dozen years working on pictures for DreamWorks and Disney—to be animation director for Astro Boy ...
So you see, globalization isn't a one-way street anymore. It's not enough to be a lower-cost provider. You must also create product that put eyeballs in front of the big, silver screen; that's why California's gravitational pull on global animation remains strong.