May 30--Further deepening ties between Hollywood and China, Legendary Entertainment's Chinese film venture has signed a multiyear agreement to co-produce movies with China's largest film distributor.
This agreement with Legendary East marks the first time China Film Co. Ltd. has signed a long-term production deal with a Chinese or international partner.
Formed in 2011, Legendary East is a spinoff of Legendary Pictures, the Burbank-based film finance and production company behind the "Dark Knight Rises" and "Hangover" movies, and the upcoming "Man of Steel." Legendary is teaming up with a company that is controlled by the powerful state film distributor China Film Group (CFGC), which also recently partnered with a joint venture involving Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation to jointly produce a movie called "Tibet Code."
DreamWorks and Walt Disney Studios both have joint venture deals in China and last year News Corp. acquired a 20% stake in Chinese film distributor Bona Film Group.
The Legendary agreement calls for the two companies to fund the development and production of multiple "tentpole scale" films over an initial three-year term, with each film specifically planned as a U.S.-China co-production. Such films are not subject to the foreign film quotas that limit how much revenue foreign film producers can collect from their movies in China.
The signing was officiated Thursday at a ceremony in Beijing by Legendary Entertainment founder and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Tull, and Han Sanping, chairman of China Film Co. Ltd.
"There can be no doubt that this is one of the most important collaborations for CFGC in the coming years," Sanping said in a statement. "We believe that through strong collaboration between CFGC and Legendary East, we will be able to make films that are more appealing to filmgoers, creating new genres that, through the magic of film, bring greater variety to audiences around the world."
Tull added: "We truly value the opportunity to work with China Film Co. Ltd., a leader in the vital Chinese motion picture marketplace. We look forward to combining our very complementary strengths to serve the global entertainment market."
China is now the top theatrical market outside North America, generating an estimated $2.7 billion in ticket sales in 2012, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
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