Sony to Distribute 6 Films a Year From Robinov’s Studio

Sony Corp. agreed to distribute as many as six movies a year from Studio 8, the production company led by Jeff Robinov, former president of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Sony will invest an undisclosed amount in Studio 8, according to an e-mailed statement today. The Culver City, California-based production company, was set up by Robinov this year. It’s seeking to raise $1 billion and has already secured an investment from China’s Fosun Group.

The deal with Sony brings more financed content to the Japanese company’s own movie division as well as Robinov’s relationships with some of Hollywood’s most sought-after film directors. Robinov will have authority to develop, produce and acquire films for Sony.

“I’m very grateful to have Fosun Group and Sony Pictures Entertainment as integral parts of this venture,” said Robinov in a statement. “Their support, experience and accomplishments will help us build a great global media company together.”

Sony will distribute Robinov’s films worldwide, except in China. The agreement will see movies channeled into China via Fosun, which could lead to better terms for Studio 8. Foreign films distributed into China are subject to annual quotas and also caps on the revenue. Films produced and distributed by Chinese companies are not subject to the same restrictions.

‘Significant Influence’

Robinov spent 17 years at at Warner Bros and left as president after Kevin Tsujihara was picked to run the film and television studio. He oversaw the “Dark Knight” franchise of movies at Warner Bros., which were directed by Christopher Nolan, as well as the production of Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” which won an Oscar for best picture.

Fosun, controlled by Chinese billionaire Guo Guangchang, said in June it was investing in a Studio 8, enabling it to exercise “significant influence” over the distribution arrangements of movies in China and Taiwan.

Fosun is a Chinese conglomerate involved in industries from real estate to pharmaceuticals. The company has announced $3.2 billion of acquisitions in the past three years, including One Chase Manhattan Plaza in New York and 80 percent of Portugal’s Caixa Geral de Depositos SA’s insurance business, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Fosun’s involvement with Studio 8 is a further indication of Chinese investors’ interest in the U.S. film industry as its box-office has become the fastest growing worldwide. Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital Ltd. in March agreed to invest in a new movie studio to be set up by Hollywood producers Robert Simonds and Gigi Pritzker.

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