Former Warner Bros film chief Jeff Robinov is reportedly in talks with China’s Huayi Brothers Media Corp to secure financing for a new venture that will produce five films a year.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Beijing-based studio is among a group of US and international investors that are close to finalising a deal to finance the company’s films.
Robinov is also expected to close a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to cover marketing and distribution of the slate. He has also been in talks with Twentieth Century Fox. A financing deal with Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik is now thought to be off the cards.
Huayi has been in talks with US studios and execs for several years and is seen as a likely contender to make a big Hollywood investment. So far, none of the new generation of Chinese studios has made a significant investment in US production, although Wanda Group bought out exhibition chain AMC Entertainment in 2012.
Around the same time as the Wanda/AMC deal, Fox announced that it had acquired a 20% stake in Beijing-based Bona Film Group. Bona is now working on co-productions with Fox, Universal and the UK’s Working Title Films.
Founded 20 years ago by Wang Zhongjun and Wang Zhonglei, Huayi Brothers is one of China’s largest studios with operations across film and TV production, distribution, cinema ownership and talent management. It had hits last year with Feng Xiaogang’s Personal Tailor and Tsui Hark’s Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon.
A deal struck in 2011 for Huayi to invest in Legendary East alongside Hong Kong-listed Paul Y Engineering fell apart when the partners failed to raise the anticipated funds through the Hong Kong stock exchange and institutional investors. Legendary East, the Beijing-based production arm of Legendary Pictures, is now partnered with state-owned China Film Group.