China Mainstream to Invest $300 Million in 10 Movies

A Chinese film-finance group plans to invest $300 million in 10 English-language films, starting with “Ming: The Annihilator,” based on a character from Spider-Man creator Stan Lee.

National Film Capital, a government-backed entertainment company, is developing projects that will appeal to international audiences, the Beijing-based company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The company will also invest in the Chinese theater business, to become a major player in both the U.S. and in China.

The company’s Beverly Hills, California-based unit, China Mainstream Media National Film Capital, will produce and distribute English-language pictures with major Hollywood studios and independent moviemakers, according to the statement. The parent company is run by Yang Bu Ting, former chairman of the government-run China Film Group, the country’s largest producer and distributor.

“The Chinese film industry needs Hollywood expertise and Hollywood needs the Chinese market,” Liu Yuan, co-chairman and president of China Mainstream, said in the statement. “We are the perfect one-stop China turn-key partner for Hollywood.”

The company plans to develop a 2,000-screen cinema presence in China, through building locations, buying out owners or forming partnerships with existing operators.

China Mainstream said in February that it planned to create a film fund to focus on co-productions involving U.S. producers and writers. Yang said in a March interview that National Film’s U.S. outpost was looking to combine American talent with stories that have a strong Chinese element.

U.S. Expansion

A number of other Chinese film companies are expanding into U.S. entertainment markets.

DMG Entertainment, based in Beijing, is producing “Iron Man 3” with Burbank, California-based Walt Disney Co. The chairman of Beijing-based Bona Film Group Ltd., Yu Dong, said in April that his company was in talks with major studios, including News Corp.’s Fox and Viacom Inc.’s Paramount, about co-productions.

Dalian Wanda Group, controlled by billionaire real-estate developer Wang Jianlin, agreed in May to buy AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., to create the world’s biggest cinema owner.

Ticket sales in China rose about 30 percent to $2 billion last year, making it the biggest market after the U.S. and Japan, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. By comparison, worldwide box-office revenue rose 3.2 percent.

The MPAA said that China surpassed Japan for second place in the first quarter on a 12-month basis.

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