Universal Pictures announced on November 17 the official launch of a China office in Beijing to be led by Jo Yan.
The nascent slate is expected to kick off in 2015 with Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken and will be followed by Fast & Furious 7 in April, summer releases Jurassic World and Despicable Me 2 spin-off Minions (July) and year-end release Everest.
Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts (pictured second left), chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Jeff Shell (pictured second right), president of distribution for Universal Pictures International (UPI) Duncan Clark (pictured far left) and UPI’s newly appointed evp and managing director of China Yan (pictured far right) attended an opening ceremony.
Until now Universal films previously opened in China via a sub-distribution deal with Edko Films. Hits include Fast & Furious 6 on $66.5m and Despicable Me 2 on $53m.
“China is the world’s second-largest film market and if the current growth rate continues, it could be the largest in a matter of a few years,” said Shell.
“We’re confident that Universal has the right kind of film slates for China and now that we have Jo and his team in place, we’re looking forward to seizing the enormous potential in the Chinese marketplace.”
Universal recently announced plans to build a 300-acre theme park in Beijing and is ramping up local television and consumer products operations as well as content production partnerships and acquisitions.
“We have an amazing line-up of some of Universal’s most successful home-grown franchises in 2015, so the timing of our office opening could not be better,” said Yan (also pictured separately).
“The long-awaited next installment in Steven Spielberg’s groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World in 3D will debut in the US in June 2015. The film stars Chris Pratt, who is hot off a successful run in China of Guardians Of The Galaxy. Jurassic World will be released two years after Jurassic Park 3D debuted in China and despite being a 20-year old film, grossed $57m.”
Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions will star in their own self-titled 3D film in July 2015. Yan added that the Minions characters have become a “phenomenon” in China since the release of Despicable Me 2 earlier this year.
Clark talked up Fast & Furious 7 and Unbroken, which he said he hoped would be the company’s first release in China next year.