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More Chinese film companies tap into Hollywood

2015-03-19 14:40 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Si Huan

Hollywood has turned their eyes on China, thanks to its fast-growing film market. Chinese film companies, in response, are fully embracing the chances to team up with Hollywood by sending their capital abroad.

Huayi Brothers Media Corp, China's largest private film company, reached an agreement with STX Entertainment of the United States to co-produce and distribute at least 18 feature films by the end of 2017 on March 16.

The agreement was reached through Huayi's wholly owned US subsidiary, signaling that aim of China's showbiz conglomerate to increase cooperation with major screen markets globally.

One day later, Lionsgate unveiled a three-year deal with Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary, in which its wholly owned subsidiaries TIK Films is to co-finance all qualifying Lionsgate feature films annually for the coming three years. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal will include $375 million in film financing.

Lionsgate said it decided to cooperate with Hunan TV, the second-most-watched broadcaster in China and best known for producing entertainment programs and TV series, to explore opportunities for its programs outside China.

"This agreement reflects our strategy of teaming with entrepreneurial partners to expand our global operations in key markets while underscoring our commitment to a business model that mitigates risk," said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer.

"We look forward to joining hands in creating a feature film pipeline filled with some of the most commercially exciting movies in the world as well as exploring other strategic opportunities throughout our complementary film and television businesses," said Hunan TV chairman Qiu Yunlong.

Last year, Lionsgate partnered with China's e-commerce giant Alibaba to launch a streaming service in China for distribution of films including The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and TV shows like Mad Men and The Royals.

Expanding cooperation

More Chinese film companies are making further inroads into the international market.

Bona Film Group, another giant film company in China, also announced to team with Studio 9 and Tristar to co-produce Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's upcoming film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

LeVision Pictures, the film production branch of video streaming site LeTV, established a $200 million fund as part of a new Los Angeles-based subsidiary in October, 2014.

According to film market analyst Liang Yong, China's outbound capital flow is helping the export of Chinese films.

"To Hollywood, the most valuable asset in China is its film market and capital, especially its production companies. To export Chinese films, we can start by investing capital outbound and cooperate on filming foreign-language films. In order to bring Chinese films onto the bigger stage, we should learn more from filmmakers in Hollywood," said Liang.

For a just-blooming film market like China, there is a long and arduous road ahead.

"We sent our actors out to act in foreign films in the past, but with enough capital, we can join others in actually producing the stories. More collaboration between Chinese film companies with their counterparts abroad means better opportunities to export Chinese films," Liang added.

Chen Shaofeng, vice dean of Institute of Cultural Industries at Peking University, agreed that joining hands with Hollywood may help strengthen influences of Chinese film and Chinese film companies worldwide.

"In particular, in strengthening cooperation with Hollywood, we can draw from their contents and business models to gradually push forward globalization of domestic films," said Chen.

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