China’s Bona Film Group has increased its revolving credit facility with Bank of Beijing from $15.8m (RMB100m) to $79m (RMB500m), which it will use over the next two years for content production.
Bona CEO Yu Dong said the facility – the largest so far by a commercial bank in China for film financing – would be used to bankroll the company’s upcoming slate of ten pictures. These include two 3D productions – Tsui Hark’s Tracks In The Snowy Mountain and The White-Haired Witch, to be produced by Tsui and directed by Jacob Cheung.
The NASDAQ-listed company is also planning to make a big push into upscale TV drama series, starting with a $13m (RMB80m) spin-off of Teddy Chen’s action feature Bodyguards And Assassins, which Bona fully financed through a joint venture with its producer Peter Ho-sun Chan.
The deal with Bank of Beijing was signed in Cannes on Thursday between Bona CEO Yu Dong and the bank’s Zhang Hua, in the presence of Zhang Pimin, deputy director of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).
Bona also recently secured strategic investment from News Corp which acquired a 19.9% stake in the company. Explaining the reasons for the deal, Yu Dong told Screen it has resulted in “an improvement in our shareholder base, with a strategic investor which is a world-class player with potential synergistic value for the company’s future development.”
He continued that it also provided exit opportunities to the venture capitalist companies “who have helped tremendously the growth of Bona before the IPO.”
During Thursday’s signing ceremony, Zhang was openly supportive of both the Bank of Beijing financing deal and the News Corp investment.
Yu also said that Bona is in active talks with Western players about co-financing English-language movies. The company also buys product for distribution in the China market, such as The Three Musketeers which opened in China on May 15.