THE WESTERN EASTERNER ... OR VICE-VERSA
CEO, DMG ENTERTAINMENT
BY ALEX SIMON
China has grown from the world’s most-populous third world country over the past two decades into one of its most powerful economic, social and political forces. By 2014, it’s expected to become the world’s second largest media market, and is already the world’s second largest economy, thanks to a burgeoning middle class that currently numbers 115 million and is expected to jump to over 150 million by 2020.
When New York native Dan Mintz arrived in China in 1990 to scout loca- tions for a television commercial he was shooting, there was little, if any, evidence in place of what China was poised to become, yet Mintz was able to see the writing on the wall, and after the commercial shoot wrapped, he stuck around. “Part of what made me stay was I felt that if you were going to spend five years of your life anywhere in the world, this was the place to do it because in five years,
I saw thirty years of growth. I grew up in New York, one of the greatest cities in the world, but it was already finished. China in the early ‘90s, had room for one thing: growth,” Mintz, who is now 45, remembers.
And grow he did. In 1993, Mintz formed DMG along with partners Wu Bing and Peter Xiao. They have grown into an award-winning marketing company (DMG Media) and premier entertainment studio (DMG Entertainment) in China. “It was tough going at first, but I knew that I was living in what would be China’s ‘good old days,’” Mintz says with a laugh. “We are living in the same climate now in China, as what the post-war generation, during the 1950s, got to experience in the U.S. Every generation seems to talk about, and idealize, a time past, instead of grabbing onto the present, and really living in it fully.”
And he certainly lived it to the fullest. In the past 18 years, DMG has brought to success a strong portfolio of multinationals in China, including Volkswagen, Johnson & Johnson, NBA, Nike, Under Armour, and many others. For its innovation and creativity, DMG Media has been honored with a slate of prestigious awards, and also recognized as one of the world’s leading independent agencies for three straight years.
In addition to their advertising exper- tise, Dan has used DMG’s resources, and his own filmmaking talents, to direct and produce two films, one of which, entitled Cookers, won the 2001 Milan Film Festival. “In 2009, a very significant financial trigger was pulled when China became one of the biggest box office draws in the world, rising to number one for 2012 and number two for Transformers 2. There are approximately 5,000 screens in China at the moment, but in five years, seven years, there is a big push to bring that number to 35,000. So the growth is phenomenal, and the potential is obviously there. It’s been very helpful being the one partner in the company who has a background in film,” Mintz explains.
Dan’s insights proved to be accurate. In 2009, DMG Entertainment produced The Founding of a Republic, which became the highest grossing domestic film of the year, and also distributed Hollywood blockbusters Twilight and Knowing to Chinese screens. In early 2010, DMG repeated its success with domestic films with the production of Go Lala Go!, which became a No. 1 box-office hit and an urban sensation. “Having been here for so long and developing a feel for what people like and don’t like, that kind of mix between science and magic is really giving us a huge advantage,” Mintz says.
In November 2010, DMG Entertainment brought Resident Evil: Afterlife to Chinese screens, marking the first time ever for the Resident Evil franchise to be able to enter China, a market which commands strict censorship against gory and violent content. DMG opened Resident Evil: Afterlife in 2,500 3D screens— marking the widest 3D opening ever in China. Even more impressive, Resident Evil: Afterlife (distributed in China three months after its global premiere) opened during the same week as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yet the two were neck-and- neck in the opening weekend box office.
And the momentum for DMG hasn’t stopped. In 2011, DMG Entertainment continues to witness groundbreaking success with a slate of Hollywood/ China co-productions, Hollywood film imports and Chinese-language productions.
DMG is co-producing a Hollywood/ China blockbuster LOOPER, which features the biggest Hollywood and Chinese stars, including Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, and prominent Chinese actress Xu Qing. In April of this year, DMG brought the cast and crew of the movie to China to complete the shooting of the film.
Additionally, in the first five months of this year, DMG Entertainment has also already distributed RED, Killers, and The Eagle to China, already filling in three of China’s strict 20-import quota slot, thus reflecting the company’s unrivaled access in the market. Yet, DMG Entertainment isn’t done yet. The studio is scheduled to distribute a slate of more film imports within the rest of the year. In addition to distributing a lineup of Hollywood films in the first five months, DMG Entertainment has also produced a slate of Chinese-language films, including Beginning of the Great Revival, Repeat, I Love You, Love You You, as well as three other movies scheduled for the year.
In addition, DMG has launched House of Creativity, an open collaborative platform where artists can share their creative processes and inspirations together with their peers. With creativity as the common language, artists can communicate freely their original thoughts, build upon ideas with others and ultimately manifest their dreams into reality.
House of Creativity was launched in June through an auspicious event, where some of the most celebrated Chinese artists come together to reflect their inspirations to creativity, share their personal creative dream and discuss the current state an future of creativity.
Now that DMG has become a force to be reckoned with in China, Mintz is next setting his sights on a broader field. Be on the lookout for some large footprints, to be sure.