Korea’s CJ Entertainment and China’s Bona International Film Group (BIFG) have established a strategic partnership to co-invest and co-produce at least two films a year in China.

After CJ’s partnership with Chris Columbus’ 1492 Pictures late last year and its joint venture with Japan’s T-Joy theater chain last Nov, CJ Entertainment now further extends its reach into the China market.

The partnership was signed Sunday (June 13) in Shanghai during the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), with CJ Entertainment CEO Katharine Kim and BIFG chairman Yu Dong.

The partnership represents strategic goals of each companies. For CJ Entertainment, it means to more aggressively enter the China market through China distribution powerhouse. For BIFG, it opens up a wider market for Chinese-language films produced by BIFG. BIFG is China’s biggest private distribution company and among top five Chinese studios. BIFG’s 2009 releases account for 10% market share of China’s 2009 box office revenue.

“Through the long-term cooperation with BIFG, we hope we can participate in film distribution and film marketing areas in China.  Our aim is to co-produce successful pan-Asian films,” Katharine Kim said.

“We are pleased to partner with a leading Korean film company such as CJ Entertainment. Our mutual goal is not just to develop the China market but to let Chinese-language films see a bigger international market,” said Yu Dong.

According to Yu, the films co-produced by the two companies will be budgeted at $30m or more. The main reason is to make use of CJ’s film development resources in the Hollywood (Dreamworks and 1492 Pictures) and distribution resource in Japan (with T-Joy), combining BIFG’s strength in mainland China to ensure the market is large enough for big-budgeted pan-Asian films.

Yu said previously as Chinese-language films’ limited market outside China, a large Chinese-language co-production project is normally budgeted around $10m.

Yu said the two companies have started to co-develop projects with genres and topics safe for Chinese censorship such as action, crime and romantic comedies.

According to Katharine Kim, to distribute their co-produced films, CJ is likely to take charge of Korean and Japan market while BIFG will handle the Chinese-speaking region. Mike Suh, CJ’s Senior VP on international film financing and production added that the company’s main focus market in the next few years will be China and Japan.

CJ Entertainment in 2009 co-produced Zhang Ziyi starring Sophie’s Revenge with China’s Perfect World Culture. The $7m film raked in more than $14.6m (RMB100m) in mainland China.

BIFG last year co-produced $1.5m romantic comedy Let’s Fall in Love with Korean IHQ and Hong Kong’s Sundream Motion Pictures.

CJ Entertainment’s theater chain CJ CGV currently owns 3 cinemas and 19 screens in China.