Hong Kong's eSun Holdings, part-owner of production and distribution outfit Media Asia Group, has signed a $25.6m (HK$200m) joint venture with leading Singapore broadcaster MediaCorp. At the same time, Media Asia has unveiled co-production pacts with Taiwan's Pandasia Entertainment and Hong Kong outfits Teamwork Motion Pictures and Filmko Pictures.

The deals demonstrate a growing willingness amongst Asian territories to collaborate on pictures aimed at the international market.

The five-year MediaCorp deal is expected to produce five Chinese-language pictures in the first year and ten in the second. The companies' respective production arms, Media Asia Films and MediaCorp Studios, will handle producing duties.

The joint venture will also integrate Media Asia's separate pacts with Pandasia, Teamwork and Filmko. Media Asia has formed a strategic alliance with Pandasia to co-finance a slate of Chinese-language films aimed at international audiences. The two partners plan to make full use of Pandasia shareholder Digimax's CG expertise. The company operates a state-of-the-art CG facility in Taiwan.

The deal with Teamwork, the production outfit of Hong Kong pop star turned acting sensation Andy Lau, covers four pictures over two years, two of which will star Lau. The deal with Alex Wong's Filmko, a director-focused production operation launched in August 2000, also covers four pictures over two years with a total production budget of not less than $12.8m (HK$100m).

Media Asia has previously worked with Teamwork on ballroom dancing picture Dance Of A Dream, to be released locally this Christmas, and with Pandasia on Sylvia Chang's Princess D, due for release Easter 2002.

Since restructuring last year, eSun, a former hotels and property group, is now focused on telecoms and entertainment, and has interests in satellite and terrestrial television and artist management. Media Corp's interests span television, radio and print and online publishing.

Meanwhile Media Asia also unveiled its upcoming production slate which includes an untitled Jackie Chan project, scheduled to shoot September 2000 and Initial D, a racing car action drama based on a top-selling Japanese manga comic which has already spawned a TV animation series. Hong Kong Formula One drivers are being lined up to star alongside regular actors.

The Unicorn Hunt, a co-production between Media Asia and the US' Regent Entertainment, has been put on hold post-September 11, due to its sensitive subject matter. The picture, which has Leslie Cheung lined up to star, was due to shoot this month.