Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International (復星) said yesterday it would take a stake in new US media company Studio 8, marking a rare investment by a Chinese firm in Hollywood.
The deal was signed on June 6, Fosun said in a statement, without giving the size of the stake or the price paid.
Studio 8 was founded by Jeff Robinov, a Warner Bros executive for 17 years until he left after reportedly losing an internal competition to become its chief executive.
Privately owned Fosun is a diversified conglomerate with interests ranging from pharmaceuticals to mining.
Cooperation would include bringing Hollywood-style filmmaking to China and introducing “Chinese elements” into co-productions with Studio 8, the statement said.
Fosun said it has previously invested in Chinese media firms, but the deal was its first with Hollywood.
In another Chinese investment in the movie industry, property group Wanda (萬達) bought US cinema chain AMC Entertainment for US$2.6 billion in 2012. Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin (王健林), China’s richest man last year, later hosted Hollywood stars to unveil plans to build a film studio in eastern China.
China was the world’s second-largest box office worth US$3.6 billion last year, behind only North America, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Authorities limit foreign films to a quota of just 34 a year. While co-productions can escape the limit, they are still subject to censorship that excises content deemed politically sensitive or obscene.
Fosun said it would be involved in the distribution of Studio 8 movies in China and Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong and Macau.
“Our partnership will combine the resources of China and Hollywood to build a global platform not only focusing on movie and entertainment investment, but also aiming to integrate our resources around the world,” Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang (郭廣昌) — who ranked 31st on Forbes’ China rich list last year — said in the statement.
Investors were unimpressed by the deal. Fosun’s Hong Kong-listed shares were down 0.58 percent to HK$10.32 yesterday afternoon.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that negotiations had failed for another Chinese company, Huayi Brothers Media Corp (華誼兄弟傳媒), to help fund Studio 8.
Huayi had originally pledged to pay as much as US$150 million, which would have made it the largest investment to date by a Chinese company in US film production, the newspaper said.