DMG Entertainment’s Full Acquisition of Valiant Comics & Pushing-Out Its Core Team, Are RED FLAGS
By Ryan Carroll, Editor-at-Large
The entire creative and executive team that made the company great, and formed the business model that has sustained it since its re-launch into the public lexicon,
– ARE ALL GONE!!! –
With Dan Mintz, President and only non-Chinese co-founder of DMG Entertainment fully acquiring the company, changing its core focus from very selective high-quality comic books storylines. To film, television, and other licensing approach to business.
A huge shift, and one that is far from the core values and culture of Valiant Entertainment. Arguably the most successful comic book company – more successful than Marvel or DC Comics – in the past 10 years!
Appears to be a major catalyst in the entire core team behind Valiant Ent (comics) leaving or being forced out – Dinesh Shamdasani, the Kevin Feige of Valiant Entertainment and someone who is very respected in the comic book world since his arrival with Valiant. Is the most troubling departure, along with Peter Cuneo.
A company that Shamdasani and Jason Kothari acquired in 2005 through the support of financial backers, relaunching its publication arm in 2012 to phenomenal success. Making it the most award nominated & winning comic publisher each year since, while setting multiple records in the process. Placing it up besides Marvel’s & DC’s to be herald as the Third Shared Universe in comics.
Dan Mintz is something of an anomaly, he has been profiled or interviewed in the trades 2 or 3 times, but beyond that. There is not much reported on him. Other than him being the foreign face of the Chinese owned, but slightly American company (he has the smallest stage among the three founders – the other two being Chinese).
DMG Entertainment is a Beijing advertisement & media company turned film studio.
DMG Ent. came onto the scene with an investment into Iron Man 3 in an attempt to make Iron Man 3 an official co-production with China. Something that did not happened, but gave us some additional scenes shot in China, by DMG, to be tagged (sloppily) unto the end of Iron Man 3‘s Chinese theatrical release.
DMG’s box-office take from Iron Man 3‘s in China, as they did not have interest in the international box-offices of the film, according to my number crunching. Was enough to basically break even for the company, compared to the investment they made into Disney for the privilege.
It wasn’t until their backing and release of the surprise sci-fi time travel film, Looper, that brought the company their first-and-only big box-office hit to date,
Though they have co-produced / financed other Chinese films, it’s difficult to track their successes in the Chinese films Go La La Go or No Man’s Land. As they are just one of many Chinese companies behind these films.
Their investment into Hollywood films has seemingly slowed, with only Looper being their standout picture. With their remaining Hollywood ventures the Point Break remake, Collide, and Father Figures, bombing at the box-office, and only Point Break getting a notable distribution in China with $40MMUSD.
Not enough to save the movie.
DMG did a very controversial backdoor IPO in China, in 2014, the year before the Regulators began cracking down because of over-inflated listing on the newly established stock exchange markets of Shanghai and Shenzhen; for film, media, and entertainment related companies to take advantage of during China’s box-office boom.
DMG’s IPO brought their valuation to $1BnUSD, but it is unclear how much, if any, additional investment occurred. Though their filings show that they could potentially raise $3.6BnUSD from this backdoor listing. Something that they would never have achieved through traditional listing means on standard stock exchanges such as, NYC.
How much money does DMG have, and is its war chest big enough to handle creating a vast number films and TV series without the core team that has led Valiant Ent. to its success? It is unclear.
One major hurdle DMG faces, is not only the massive expense it will be to transition Valiant Ent. from comics to big budget Hollywood tentpole movies, there is the fact that Valiant Comics is but one of three multi 9-figure franchises that they have acquired.
DMG has also acquired Brandon Snaderson’s Cosmere fantasy / sci-fi book universe. A huge expanded universe that goes beyond the Westerosi Universe that is Game of Thrones, and has an expansive universe that goes throughout the galaxy that it inhabits.
Cosmere like Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, it is incredibly expansive to make. With GoT being the anomaly rather than the norm, and is series that an established player like HBO could make without sinking the entire company.
The Cosmere deal has committed $270MMUSD across three feature films from DMG.
Valiant & Cosmere Universes are both major financial risks to translate into live-action feature film or television franchises – either one on their own could prove to be to be the downfall of this company if they fail.
But wait! I mentioned that there were 3 major shared universes / franchises that DMG has acquired!
The third being The Dandelion Dynasty sci-fi fantasy series that has been referred to as ‘Silk Punk’, with DMG already planning on adopting the first book, Grace of Kings into a fantasy series.
Grace of Kings is written by upcoming Chinese-American sci-fi fantasy writer Ken Liu. Who won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy for his fantastic short story, Paper Menagerie, and who has also won China’s Galaxy Award, the French Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, the Japanese Seiun, and the Spanish Premio Ignotus.
DMG has a lot on its plate and their track record so far has been, one (surprisingly) success film, with multiple box-office bombs. Their team’s track record does not highlight any future success in bringing any of these three major franchise / shared universes to life.
Especially, if you compound the financial risk involved in producing all three for feature film or high-end television series.
Honestly, I am skeptical of Valiant’s future – we could be looking at the end of an era.
Honestly, I am skeptical of DMG Ent. becoming a powerhouse as a film studio.
Honestly, Dinesh Shamdasani being pushed out of the company does not give me confidence in Dan Mintz.
I am been a big fan of Valiant Entertainment as a company and how they are approaching their business as being the Third Shared Universe in the industry, but everything that has been occurring in the last month. Since DMG fully acquired Valiant, is more worrying than exciting.
DMG has money, or they appear to have the money, to produce these films on a high-quality Hollywood level, but the real question lies in. Will they?
It is common in China for a company to develop high-profile films as a scheme to raise actual capital. Now I am not saying this is what DMG is doing, as their controversial backdoor IPO appears to say otherwise. Though, without any successes, and several Hollywood bombs, how much capital they have left is a mystery.
Which could be the reason why they fully acquired Valiant Entertainment, and pushed all of the key people out. To use the Third Biggest, and the most successful, Shared Comic Book Universe Library, as leverage to finance the rest of their film studio’s ambitions.
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About the Author
Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.