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January 21, 2017

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Paramount gets US$1b investment

US movie studio Paramount said yesterday that it was partnering with two Chinese film companies in a deal that would reportedly see US$1 billion in cash injected into the Hollywood giant.

The deal is the latest move into Hollywood by deep-pocketed Chinese enterprises, following forays by China property-to-entertainment conglomerate Wanda and e-commerce leader Alibaba.

Paramount signed a three-year agreement with Shanghai Film Group (SFG) and Beijing-based Huahua Media to co-finance and co-produce all of the US studio’s films, Paramount said in a statement on China’s twitter-like Weibo platform.

It gave no figures, but US film-industry media outlets such as Variety reported that Paramount will receive US$1 billion in cash from its Chinese partners.

Paramount Chairman Brad Grey said in the statement that the tie-up was a “very natural and very powerful” one due to the market presence of its Chinese partners.

SFG’s listed movie arm Shanghai Film Co owns a cinema chain that operates 295 theaters across China with 2015 box office receipts at 3.15 billion yuan (US$458 million), according to its official website.

Huahua Media is a film marketing company that has already worked with Paramount to promote its films in China, including “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” previous Huahua statements said.

SFG Chairman Wang Kefei was quoted in Paramount’s statement as saying the tie-up will help to promote Chinese film content abroad, giving no details.

Shanghai Film Co shares closed 2.98 percent higher on the city’s stock exchange yesterday, following the announcement.

Wanda, whose Chairman Wang Jianlin is one of China’s richest men, already owns US cinema chain AMC, Hollywood production company Legendary, and Dick Clark Productions, which runs the Golden Globe awards.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Wang reiterated his interest in buying one of the “big six” Hollywood studios.

Wanda announced a partnership with Sony Pictures in September to invest in China-themed films.

Alibaba recently bought a minority stake in acclaimed director Steven Spielberg’s studio Amblin Partners.


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