Huayi fo­cuses onHol­ly­wood deals for five movies a year

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By HUANG YING huangy­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Huayi Broth­ers Me­dia Corp, one of China’s leading en­ter­tain­ment con­glom­er­ates, is in talks with other in­vestors about fi­nanc­ing films pro­duced by Jeff Robi­nov, the for­mer film chief at Wa r n e r B r o s En­ter - tain­ment Inc, ac­cord­ing to a me­dia re­port.

Robi­nov, who served as pres­i­dent of the com­pany’s Warner Bros Pic­tures Group from 2007 to 2013, plans to set up a pro­duc­tion com­pany that would turn out about five movies a year with fund­ing from Bei­jing-based Huayi and other po­ten­tial in­vestors, The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported on Wed­nes­day.

Sony Pic­tures En­ter­tain­ment Inc will most likely re­lease these movies, ac­cord­ing to people fa­mil­iar with the deal, the re­port said.

If a deal is reached, it would be the largest of its kind in years and the most sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment by a Chi­nese en­ter­prise in­Hol­ly­wood.

Wang Duan, as­sis­tant to Wang Zhongjun, the chair­man ofHuayi, told China Daily that­de­tails of the deal aren’t clear yet and that “only the boss” can an­swer ques­tions.

Anof­fi­cial state­ment will be re­leased when the deal closes, the as­sis­tant said.

“The pro­posed co­op­er­a­tion is in line with the gen­eral trend of Hol­ly­wood moviemak­ers striv­ing for a bet­ter show­ing in the world’s sec­ond-

PENG KAN R&D DI­REC­TOR AT LEG­END ME­DIA

film mar­ket.

“Like­wise, the Chi­nese par­ties want a deeper in­volve­ment in the global film busi­ness,” said Peng Kan, re­search and de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor of the Bei­jing-based con­sul­tancy com­pany Leg­end Me­dia.

Chair­man Wang told the China Se­cu­ri­ties Jour­nal re­cently that he wants to take Huayi fur­ther along the path to de­vel­op­ment as an in­ter­na­tional player start­ing this year, en­gag­ing more with Hol­ly­wood in­dus­try play­ers.

Huayi has been seek­ing more clout in Hol­ly­wood for quite some time.

Fury, a Hol­ly­wood block­buster star­ringUSac­torsBrad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf, is set for a North Amer­i­can re­lease in Novem­ber, and it’s likely to en­ter Chi­nese the­aters at the same time. Huayi was a ma­jor in­vestor in the film, which has a budget of $75 mil­lion.

Huayi also helped fi­nance three other Hol­ly­wood pro­duc­tions that are sched­uled for re­lease in 2015, in­clud­ing two an­i­mated fea­tures.

Huayi re­ported rev­enue of 2 bil­lion yuan ($328 mil­lion) in 2013, up 45.2 per­cent, with net profit surg­ing 172.7 per­cent to 667 mil­lion yuan.

The com­bi­na­tion of cap­i­tal from China, the movie mogul’s ex­ten­sive in­dus­try con­nec­tions and Sony’s strong dis­tri­bu­tion net­works will make the new ven­ture com­pet­i­tive, Peng said.

But there are risks in the deal. For ex­am­ple, Sony had a hard time last­sum­mer, mainly be­cause of two big-budget flops — White House Down and Af­ter Earth — which were re­spon­si­ble for its fall in the top 10 US film dis­trib­u­tors list by mar­ket share. Its po­si­tion de­clined from first in 2012 to fourth in 2013.

“A lack of clear cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment ori­en­ta­tion is to blame for Sony’s per­for­mance de­cline last year,” said Shao Gang, deputy di­rec­tor of con­sult­ing for the cul­ture and en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try atHori­zon Re­search Con­sul­tancy Group in Bei­jing

For Huayi, the sig­nif­i­cance of the deal is per­haps more sym­bolic than any­thing, Shao said.

“An­other po­ten­tial risk (is that) film pro­duc­ers have to sat­isfy a global au­di­ence as well as Chi­nese movie­go­ers whenit comes to the con­tent” of movies, said Peng.

Robi­nov left the US film stu­dio in June last year af­ter los­ing a con­test for the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer’s job to home-en­ter­tain­ment chief Kevin Tsu­ji­hara.

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