Fortissimo Films has entered into a strategic partnership with Korea’s CJ Entertainment that covers co-production and library sales, and gives CJ a first-look deal for Fortissimo’s upcoming titles.

The wide-ranging deal, announced by Fortissimo chairman Michael J. Werner and CJ Entertainment CEO Katharine Kim, should give Fortissimo a firmer foothold in Korea – currently Asia’s second biggest market – and help the Korean powerhouse with its pan-Asian ambitions.

In addition to the first-look deal for new titles, it also enables CJ to exploit Fortissimo’s library of more than 250 features across Korea’s burgeoning new media platforms.

CJ owns Korea’s biggest cinema circuit, CJ CGV, while affiliate CJ Media operates cable TV networks and sells movie titles to video-on-demand and IPTV.

Finally, the two companies said an agreement to co-develop, co-finance and co-produce a series of Asian-focused projects will be entered into in the near future.

“This is a multi-faceted relationship that has great potential to enable a wider range of titles from Fortissimo to be released in Korea,” said Werner. Although South Korea has some of the world’s most advanced new media platforms, in the past few years it has become a tough market for theatrical arthouse releases.

However CJ CGV is attempting to expand this space by establishing a specialty films team and expanding its “Movie Collage” arthouse circuit.

For its part, the tie-up provides CJ with a pipeline of product and access to Fortissimo’s close relationships with award-winning directors. The Korean major is also keen to expand its pan-Asian presence, which it has recently been pursuing through co-productions with Japanese and Chinese partners.

The deal was negotiated by Werner and Kim, along with CJ’s head of international business Mike Suh and director of international business Eric Kim.

The discussions started earlier this year between Werner, Fortissimo’s late fonder Wouter Barendrecht and their long-time friend, CJ vice-chairwoman Miky Lee, and were concluded at the recent Pusan film festival.