China's Huayi Teams Up on Depp, Reeves Movies
Huayi Brothers Media Corp. will help produce movies starring Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves as the Chinese film company looks for audiences abroad and an easier route to bringing foreign films to Chinese screens.
The Beijing-based producer said on Thursday that it will join the production of 'John Wick,' a movie about a hit man played by Mr. Reeves that will be released later this year. It will also help produce 'Mortdecai,' an action-comedy about a roguish character played by Mr. Depp.
Huayi didn't disclose financial terms.
The titles announced on Thursday add to the Huayi co-productions involving big U.S. stars. Last year, Huayi said it signed a co-production and distribution agreement with production firm QED International to make 'Fury,' a World War II film starring Brad Pitt that it said will be simultaneously released in the U.S. and China in November.
The new productions are part of a slate of films that the Chinese media company hopes will increase its presence in the industry. It plans to facilitate collaboration between high-profile Chinese directors and actors and foreign films to produce potential box-office winners in China. Foreign films co-produced with a Chinese partner often have an easier route to getting into China, where the industry is tightly controlled by the government.
'It took Huayi 20 years to earn 9.2 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) in China's box office,' said Wang Zhonglei, the company's president, at a briefing. Citing its slates of foreign and domestic films it calls its H Files, he said, 'We plan to make 10 billion yuan with the films in the H Files.'
With the foreign films, Huayi plans to be involved in the release of 32 films for the two years ending in 2015. They include the Jackie Chan historical epic 'Dragon Blade,' which is set to release early next year at the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Huayi Bros is closing a deal to fund Studio 8, a new company assembled by the former Warner Bros. film chief Jeff Robinov, with an investment of up to $150 million.
'We have four very prominent Hollywood directors in Studio 8 who have deals with Huayi,' said Wang Zhongjun, founder and CEO of the company, and brother of Wang Zhonglei. 'I am sure in the future we will be able to make a film that can gross 10 billion yuan alone with these heavyweights.'
The company last year posted a net profit of 673 million yuan, about triple from a year earlier. Its co-production 'Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,' released last year, is China's highest-grossing film, with 1.25 billion yuan in ticket sales.
华谊兄弟传媒股份有限公司(Huayi Brothers Media co., 简称：华谊兄弟)将参与制作分别由约翰尼•德普(Johnny Depp)和基努•里维斯(Keanu Reeves)主演的电影。该公司正寻求吸引海外观众，并寻找将国外电影搬上中国萤屏的更简易途径。
周四公布的上述计划让华谊兄弟参与制作的有美国明星参演的电影又有所增加。去年，华谊兄弟宣布，与QED International签署联合制作及发行《狂怒》(Fury)的协议，这是一部反应二战时期的电影，由布拉德•皮特(Brad Pitt)主演，将于11月份在美国和中国同时上映。
华谊兄弟2014/2015年H计划涉及32部电影新作，其中包括成龙(Jackie Chan)的古装片《天将雄狮》(Dragon Blade)，这部影片计划明年春节档上映。
华谊将向美国Studio 8投资最高1.50亿美元。Studio 8是华纳兄弟(Warner Bros.)前高管罗宾诺夫(Jeff Robinov)成立的一家新公司。