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Paramount Taps Chinese Investors for $1 Billion Infusion

Variety logo Variety 1/19/2017 Dave McNary
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Paramount Pictures has received a $1 billion cash investment for co-financing from Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media over the next three years.

Paramount Pictures Chairman & CEO Brad Grey, Shanghai Film Group Chairman Ren Zhonglun, and Huahua Media Chairman Wang Kefei made the joint announcement Thursday. The trio met in Shanghai in November to finalize terms of the deal.

The three entities said they will work closely together in a spirit of cooperation and will actively seek opportunities for co-productions.  Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media will open and jointly maintain an office on the Paramount lot starting later this year.

“Shanghai Film Group’s long and successful history as a prolific studio, coupled with Huahua’s strong track-record in the Chinese market and its growing reach globally, make this a natural and powerful move for Paramount,” said Grey. “We look forward to working with these two highly-respected entertainment industry leaders, Chairman Ren and Chairman Wang, and their entire organizations in the years ahead.”

The announcement was made two days after Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group disclosed an investment in Vin Diesel’s “XXX: Return of Xander Cage” through Paramount and Revolution Studios. They did not disclose the size of the investment, which also calls for the Huahua/SFG venture to assist as China marketing partners for the film.

“Xander Cage” opens Friday in the U.S. and is expected to take in about $20 million in its opening weekend.

Paramount is coming off a poor year with poor performance from its “Ninja Turtles” and “Zoolander” sequels as well as the recent release of “Monster Trucks.” Its top domestic performer last year was “Star Trek Beyond” with $158 million, the 15th-highest North American grosser; sci-fi awards contender “Arrival” has been solid with $95 million in domestic grosses.

Huahua Media and Paramount worked together on “Star Trek Beyond,” which generated $66 million in Chinese box office since its September release. Huahua was also one of Paramount’s China marketing partners for Michael Bay’s 2014 film “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” which became the first foreign film to gross more than $300 million at the Chinese box office.

Paramount and Huahua also partnered on “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” and “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.” Shanghai Film Group was previously an investor on “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.”

Shanghai Film Group oversees more than 2,000 cinema screens and incorporates a multitude of companies, including the Shanghai Film Studios. It owns over 640 feature films, 30,000 minutes of animation films, 1,555 documentary films and about 10,000 episodes of TV series.

Ren said in a statement Thursday: “SFG is very honored to work with Paramount, which has produced so many internationally acclaimed classics and boasts very strong worldwide distribution, and Huahua has always been our firm partner. We look forward to working with Chairman Brad Grey and his team, with the hope this long-term and deep cooperation can help promote Chinese films worldwide and achieve a win-win situation.”

Wang said: “Huahua was founded to bring the highest quality to the audiences that filmmaking had to offer. For the past few years, we partnered with Shanghai Film Group to successfully bring great story telling to the Chinese audiences. Our initial projects with Brad Grey and his team at Paramount also proved successful. Today, I am delighted that our three companies have come together to devote our resources not only to serve our domestic viewers, but for audiences across the world.”

The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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