Business / Companies

Bona Film invests $235m in Fox movie slate

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-11-06 07:55

Bona Film invests $235m in Fox movie slate

View of a branch of Bona Cinema of Bona Film Group in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province, Jan 12, 2013. [Photo/IC]

A major Chinese film studio has struck a deal that will funnel $235 million into a slate of six tentpole 20th Century Fox Film Corp's movies including this summer's The Martian, as China's burgeoning entertainment industry deepens its courtship with Hollywood.

Tentpole movies are films that are expected to be very successful and therefore able to fund a range of related products or movies.

Bona Film Group Ltd, backed by billionaire Guo Guangchang, is one of China's largest producers and distributors of films. It agreed to invest the sum in partnership with TSG Entertainment Finance, which picked out the movies, Peng Li, a Bona investor relations executive, said from Beijing on Thursday.

TSG, headed by former Dune Capital executive Chip Seelig, has a long-standing film financing deal with 20th Century Fox, the film division of 21st Century Fox Inc.

Chinese companies have in the past year begun investing in highly visible Hollywood productions to deepen their understanding of movie-making for a worldwide audience.

More than a half-dozen deals have been struck. A unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd backed the latest installment of Paramount Pictures' Mission Impossible starring Tom Cruise. A Dalian Wanda Group Co subsidiary footed the costs for Southpaw, headlined by Jake Gyllenhaal. And Huayi Brothers Media Corp has a financing deal in place with startup studio STX Entertainment, which debuted with The Gift.

The courtship extends both ways. Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros struck a deal with China Media Capital to begin producing films locally.

Hollywood studios are seeking to expand in China that is expected to become the world's biggest market for film entertainment even as its economy slows.

Bona Film Chief Executive Yu Dong said this month he expected China to become the world's largest film market by 2018. Last year, box office receipts surged 34 percent to $4.8 billion, while the US-Canada total shrank 5 percent to $10.4 billion.

Bona Film's investment was first reported by Variety. Fox's The Martian has been No 1 at the North American box office for four of the last five weeks and has grossed $435 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.


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