By Clayton Browne
Kaxan Media Group is a Guadalajara-based multimedia company that has big aspirations.
Founded in early 2010, Kaxan has roots stretching back to 2008 when founder and CEO Ricardo Gomez was tasked by the Mexican government to produce 52 animated shorts for the 2010 bicentennial celebration of Mexico’s war for independence and the centennial anniversary of the Mexican Revolution (called the Batallon 52 project).
The project was difficult to get off the ground because of the lack of trained animators in Mexico, so Gomez helped create Chapala Media Park, a high-tech digital media and entertainment training campus developed by the federal government and the state of Jalisco to train animators, game developers and other related multimedia jobs.
Seeing this need, and the opportunity to create a full-service Mexican media company, he and his partners raised the capital to get Kaxan off the ground. Kaxan is structured as three quasi-independent divisions – Kaxan Games, Kaxan Studios and Kaxan Campus, with 92 employees who are almost all Mexican.
More than 20 of the staff animators are graduates of the Kaxan Campus program which has trained about 100 people in its 18 months of operation, and 250 overall, including the original Batallon 52 trainees. While Director Jesús Cochegrus believes that in the next two years Kaxan Campus and local universities “will produce enough top quality graduates to match our needs,” until they do “we sometimes need to bring in people from abroad with more experience in specific areas.”
He also held out the possibility of outsourcing some production “as our production needs are becoming bigger and more challenging.”
Kaxan’s biggest near-term project is the Wii family party game “El Chavo del Ocho,” due for release in March 2012 and based on a very popular children’s television program. “El Chavo del Ocho.”
While the company declined to discuss revenue or profits, it has produced several successes. One, Taco Master, developed with Electronic Arts and Chillingo (of “Angry Birds” fame), was very successful as an iPhone app, and three other games – “Torture Bunny,” “Finger Shoes,” and “Fly or Die” – have also resulted from the partnership.
Another near-term Kaxan project is the short animated film “Secret of the Jade Medallion,” a $3 million USD production scheduled for release in mid-to-late 2012. Gomez says the company considers this film to be a kind of “dry run” for its $25 million feature-length animated film entitled “Lucas,” expected to complete production in 2013.
“Lucas,” the tale of a young boy who finds himself on a world where everything is made of recycled materials, has been financed to date by Guadalajara-based private investors, but Kaxan is negotiating with several groups outside of Mexico for further funding, as well as several large studios for U.S. distribution.
Like larger movie studios, Kaxan is pursuing a cross-platform compatibility strategy, meaning all future movie projects will be designed to include related TV series, video/computer games on various platforms, print products and merchandise such as toys and clothes.