The deal will create a distribution bridge between the US and China.

Chinese entertainment group Huayi Brothers Media Corporation and film distribution company Bona Film Group Ltd. are to acquire strategic stakes in one-year-old start up China Lion Film Distribution, adding U.S. and Canadian distribution to their portfolios.

The deal was announced in Los Angeles, where China Lion is headquartered. It became the first distributor to release major Chinese theatrical features day-and-date with China as part of its deal with U.S. cinema chain AMC. It has theatrically released 12 pictures in North America in the last year, including Chinese blockbusters Aftershock and If You Are The One 2. It also joined forces with Fox International Productions in handling the release of FIP co-productions The Butcher, the Chef & the Swordsman and Love in Space. 

In addition to North America, China Lion distributes in Australia and New Zealand and has just commenced distribution in the U.K.  China Lion is also looking to co-produce a number of major features over the next year.

Both Huayi and Bona will acquire up to 20% of China Lion, each for an undisclosed sum.

Dong Yu, chairman and CEO of Bona Film Group described the deal as a “major milestone for both Bona and China’s film industry, as it will allow overseas Chinese to watch Chinese movies without delays, as well as open modern Chinese movies to a broader North American audience, and thereby help promote Chinese culture. I believe this is a strong win-win partnership.”

Zhonglei (James) Wang, president of Huayi Brothers Media Corporation added: “In the past year China Lion has broken important ground by bringing to North American audiences the very best of Chinese cinema both from Huayi and other companies. We believe their management team will continue to build Chinese distribution in the important North America marketplace supported by strong partnerships such as AMC.”