Chinese company invests $220.5 million in film company

Stockholders in one of Hong Kong’s biggest engineering firms, Paul Y. Engineering, have formally approved $220.5 million to fund a joint venture between a Chinese shingle and Hollywood’s Legendary Pictures (Daily Variety, Aug. 23).

The Legendary East deal brings together Hong Kong player Kelvin Wu, who will serve as CEO, and Legendary topper Thomas Tull.

Plan is to make one or two big-budget movies per year for worldwide auds starting in 2013. The pics will be mainly in English and explore themes based on Chinese history, mythology or culture.

As co-productions, the movies will not fall under the quota system that limits the number of foreign pics in China to some 20 per year on a revenue-sharing basis.

The cash was raised by issuing shares on the Hong Kong stock market and will give PYE a 50% stake in Legendary East. Legendary Entertainment will have a 40% stake, China’s Huayi Brothers Media Corp. 10%.

PYE works on major construction projects in Hong Kong but is diversifying. Its exec admit they know nothing about showbiz but say they see potential in the film industry — especially in a joint venture that marries the skills of a player who can navigate the difficult waters of China’s biz with those of the Hollywood shingle that made “Inception,” “Dark Knight” and “The Hangover.”

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