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Chinese film distributor Bona Film Group Ltd. is in talks with four Hollywood studios about co-producing movies for international distribution, Bona's chief executive said in an interview Sunday.
"We hope to work with the larger studio houses ... and we're having discussions with several," Bona CEO Dong Yu said Sunday evening. He said the studios include Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures, Sony Corp., News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox, and Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures.
If realized, the plans would represent an acceleration of Chinese-U.S. film co-productions, which have typically been made on a one-off basis. Some of the U.S. studios have entered joint ventures or co-productions with Chinese companies in recent months. Walt Disney Co., for instance, said in April it had partnered with China's DMG Entertainment to co-produce the next "Iron Man" film in China.
Hollywood studios are keen to enter China's booming movie market, which generates over $2 billion in annual box office revenue and is expected to reach $5 billion by 2015, according to Chinese government reports. But the early days haven't been smooth, partly because the Chinese government controls the content of foreign movies. Beijing recently increased the number of foreign films allowed to be screened each year to 34 from 20, although the additional movies have to be either in 3-D or IMAX large-screen format.
Last month, News Corp. said it had bought a roughly 20% stake in Bona, but the deal didn't include any production agreement with Fox. Mr. Yu said he would like to work with Fox as a "preferred partner" but Bona is free to make deals with other studios.
"We hope to do two movies per year through co-productions," he said, adding he is "hopeful" the first will begin production in 2013.
Bona shares were listed on Nasdaq in December 2010 at $8.50 each and now trade at $5.49. The company is involved in several levels of the movie business, from production to distribution to theater operation. U.S. studios once controlled theaters as well, but the businesses were forced to split under an antitrust ruling in the late 1940s. Mr. Yu said most of Bona's films are made under co-production agreements with companies in Hong Kong and Taiwan and it is seeking its first U.S. deal.
Source: The Wall Street
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