Hong Kong-based mobile entertainment company Fifth Journey has signed a strategic partnerships to develop mobile games, interactive entertainment and virtual reality experiences with Universal Pictures, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM). The partnerships come alongside a strategic equity stake in the company for the studios.
Founded in early 2015 by Eric Tan, a former sales executive at Electronic Arts in China, and Craig Derrick, a veteran producer previously with LucasArts, Fifth Journey closed a $2 million seed round of financing in August. Last summer, the company also announced its first major deal, partnering with Lionsgate and Millennium Films to develop a mobile game based on theExpendables franchise. The game’s release is expected to coincide with the opening of the fourth film in the franchise in Q2 2017.
The company also has the ability to provide mobile streaming, video on demand (VOD) and e-commerce in association with its games. The company’s unique Hollywood-focused platform and the founders’ past success with major Hollywood franchises in the hard-to-crack Asian market attracted the studios’ interest in a strategic partnership.
“Asia is an enormous opportunity and challenge for Hollywood,” said Eric Tan, CEO of Hong Kong and San Francisco-based Fifth Journey. “So is building a great film franchise in this on-demand world. We built a company to solve some of Hollywood’s most pressing needs and these partnerships are a huge step forward.”
Fifth Journey’s founders have an excellent track record of developing games for major Hollywood franchises and monetizing them in Asia. Tan, while an executive at Gameloft oversaw publishing for a slate of Marvel games in China as well as the China release of Universal and Gameloft’s “Despicable Me: Minion Rush”, the only Hollywood mobile game to rank in that territory’s all-time Top 10 downloads chart. Despite Asia’s emergence as the largest gaming and soon-to-be film market, success for Hollywood movie studios and international game developers there has been rare.
“We’re delighted to expand our partnership with Eric Tan and the Fifth Journey team,” said Lionsgate President of Interactive Ventures & Games Peter Levin. “As we continue to build our presence in the gaming space, the Asian market offers tremendous growth opportunities, and Fifth Journey is the ideal partner to help us capitalize on them.”
Fifth Journey works directly with Hollywood studios not only to culturalize their games for global markets, it also has the ability to incorporate movie ticket sales, merchandise e-commerce, and stream films, TV and other content alongside an interactive game feature to deepen fans’ experiences.
“Mobile games are a highly engaging form of entertainment in their own right and, given that, they can also be envisioned as a hub through which fans may access and experience different elements of their favorite IP,” said Bill Kispert, EVP Digital Platforms, NBC-Universal Brand Development Group. “We look forward to working with Fifth Journey to first develop an authentic, film-based game and then to use this point of connection to bring players deeper into that world and its ecosystem.”
“We are always exploring innovative ways to reach our audience and build opportunities for our expansive library,” said Tricia Samuels, VP Global Licensing, Consumer Products & Interactive, MGM. “The Fifth Journey team have built a complete, 360 degree platform that serves both traditional and digital products through a unique interactive experience. We look forward to engaging in a more meaningful way with our fans around the world.”
The strategic partnership with the Hollywood studios follows the company’s closing of a $2 million seed round financing in August 2015 and the announcement of a partnership with Lionsgate and Millennium Films to develop a mobile game for “The Expendables,” an action franchise starring Sylvester Stallone that has grossed more than $800 million in worldwide box office.