John Chong has stepped down as CEO of Hong Kong-based Media Asia Group, becoming the last of the seven original founders to leave the company.
Chong said he’s been considering the move for a few years and is exploring various options, but is looking forward to developing new talent in the Hong Kong film industry. He will continue to teach at the Hong Kong Screenwriters’ Guild, which offers a diploma in screenwriting with the Open University of Hong Kong.
“I’m eager to help new directors and producers because its crucial for our industry to bring in new blood,” Chong told Screendaily. “When I joined Media Asia, there were lots of opportunities for new talent to learn, but now it’s not the same environment for young directors.”
Chong was one of seven original founders of Media Asia, known an the “Seven Samurai”, who broke away from Star TV to launch the company, and subsequently reinvigorate the Hong Kong film business, in 1994. The company’s hits include the Infernal Affairs series and more recently Love In The Buff which has been a hit at home and also had a decent day-and-date opening in North America.
After Hong Kong tycoon Peter Lam’s eSun Holdings became a major shareholder at the turn of the century, the company went through several big changes as it adapted to the changing economic environment in Asia. It was floated on the Singapore stock exchange in 2004, but Lam took it private again in 2007.
Responding to the growth in the mainland China market, Lam brought in investment from Chinese fund Yunfeng and bought out Hong Kong-based Rojam Entertainment to secure a listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011. Yunfeng was co-founded by mainland internet guru Jack Ma, who is best known for launching Alibaba and is also a shareholder of Beijing’s Huayi Brothers Media.
The move gives the company, renamed Media Asia Group Holdings, a more solid footing in the booming mainland China market where it plans to expand into the exhibition and new media businesses. Former Disney and Shanda Interactive executive Tang Jun was appointed as CEO of Media Asia Group Holdings and more recently veteran producer David Chan brought in as head of production in Hong Kong.
Media Asia is also launching a theatrical distribution operation in China next month with Soi Cheang’s Motorway as the first release, tentatively at the end of June.