LONDON — Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Entertainment and Media has formed a strategic partnership with Content Media Corporation.
The deal will include the acquisition by Content of the Alive Group of companies based in Beijing, a direct equity investment by Seven Stars into Content, and the appointment to the Content board of Bruno Wu as chairman and Seven Stars vice-chairman Alex Cherepakhov as non-executive director.
On the board, Wu and Cherepakhov are joined by Content CEO John Schmidt, Franz von Auersperg, Jeff Sagansky, Kerry McCluggage and Content’s CFO Geoff Webb as directors. Huw Davies is stepping down as chairman.
The Alive Group consists of companies engaged multiple areas of the media and entertainment biz: the production and distribution of television programming to the Chinese market; feature film production, co-production services and theatrical distribution in China; sports programming, primarily mixed martial arts; digital distribution of English-language programming to OTT players, telecom carriers and cable systems in China; music rights; and advertising and marketing services.
Content will distribute its library of film and television rights through the Alive Group to the Chinese market, and will offer its producers direct distribution opportunities to the Chinese market through Alive Group’s subsidiaries. Content will also distribute certain rights owned by the Alive Group outside of China.
The deal involves a direct equity investment by Seven Stars into Content, and the issuance of further shares to Seven Stars as consideration for the acquisition of the Alive Group. Other participants in the equity raise include Sagansky, von Auersperg, Schmidt and other members of the management team.
Among the first commercial activities of the new venture will be “Team China,” a 10-hour martial arts reality show for CCTV5, and the Chinese theatrical release of “Grace of Monaco,” starring Nicole Kidman and Tim Roth, which is the opening night film at Cannes. The film is scheduled for a May release in China. The Alive Group is developing other television formats, such as “Wheel of Fortune,” and will work with Content to bring new shows to the Chinese market. Other feature film projects are in the pipeline.
Schmidt said, “This is a tremendously exciting deal for Content and a landmark deal in our industry. Content’s worldwide production and distribution business will now include a wholly owned subsidiary operating directly in the Chinese market.
“The growth of the Chinese television market, the emergence of the OTT operators and explosive growth in Chinese box-office revenue are all elements that make China the most compelling entertainment market in the world today.”
Wu commented, “We have been building the Alive Group in China, and now we have found the perfect fit with Content Media. Content’s global distribution and production operations combined with our China business and Asia growth strategy makes for a unique and dynamic combination.”
The deal was negotiated by Webb and Rick Kwak for Content and by Cherepakhov and David Rapaport for Seven Stars.