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Alibaba Co-Founder Joe Tsai Backing Ink Factory Expansion in Asia

As seen in Variety - 8 November 2021

Published: 09 Nov 2021

Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai and business partner Arthur Wang are facilitating the expansion into Asia of London and Los Angeles-based independent studio The Ink Factory.

The Ink Factory has previously delivered adaptations of author John le Carré’s novels including “The Night Manager” and the “The Little Drummer Girl.” It is currently working on a series adaptation of “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.”

Already working on an Indian adaptation of “The Night Manager,” the company’s expansion plan calls for the establishment of a slate of le Carré works in major Asia markets and a platform for other creators in Asia. It will also provide slate funding.

The Asian initiative is led by The Ink Factory’s executive producer Tessa Inkelaar (Gitanjali Rao’s “Bombay Rose,” Pawel Pawlikowsi’s Oscar-nominated “Cold War”) with the support and collaboration of Tsai and Wang’s Hong Kong- and London-based media investment firm 127 Wall Productions.

127 Wall previously operated a slate financing deal with The Ink Factory that ran from 2017 to 2020 and co-financed Park Chan-wook’s adaptation of “The Little Drummer Girl,” for the BBC and AMC. The deal was renewed last year and runs until 2024.

Taiwan-born, naturalized Canadian, Tsai was co-founder of Chinese tech giant Alibaba and is currently the group’s executive vice chairman. He owns sports and entertainment properties including the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Liberty and the Barclays Center. Wang is a former business leader now active in the arts and culture community in Asia and currently serves on the executive committees of the Hong Kong Ballet and the Shanghai Center of Photography.

“Contemporary Asia is both the world’s fastest-growing – and soon its largest – entertainment market, and the crucible of some of the world’s boldest and most exciting creative talent,” said Simon Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell, co-founders and co-CEOs of The Ink Factory. “We look forward to building on the strength of le Carré’s reputation and the universality of his storytelling to delight audiences across Asia, as well as to working with some of the extraordinary range of creative talent that the region offers.”

“We have a long-standing commitment to supporting Asian creativity in all its forms, to seeing Asian creators take their rightful place on the world stage, and to Asian representation in the broadest sense in the western world,” said Tsai in a prepared statement.

“Fusing our love of Asia, our love of the creative world and our love of le Carré’s work into a slate of projects that push into ground-breaking territory could not be more exciting,” said Wang.

“It’s a privilege to be taking the incredible library of Le Carré to Asia, seeking out homegrown reinterpretations that can bring fresh perspectives to his enduring and universal stories.  I am thrilled to be leveraging my experience working in the region to build a slate of content led by voices from Asia and the global Asian diaspora, which are urgent, authentic and singular,” said Inkelaar. Her career has previously seen her involved as VP, creative at Cinestaan Film Company and C International Sales, managing both the international and Hindi slates.

In addition to its work in film and television, The Ink Factory has ventured into gaming, partnering with Matt Nava, to found digital studio Giant Squid. In 2020, Endeavor content came on board as a minority owner of The Ink Factory.