×

Huayi, Bona invest in China Lion

Deal give Chinese companies access to N. America

BEIJING — China’s top two privately owned shingles, Huayi Bros. and Bona Film Group, have signed up to buy stakes in the one-year-old start-up China Lion Film Distribution, which will give them access to the North American market.

Both Huayi and Bona will acquire up to 20% of China Lion each for an undisclosed sum. Former Village Roadshow and Dune Entertainment exec Greg Coote will chair the company.

“This is a major milestone for both Bona and China’s film industry, as it will allow overseas Chinese to watch Chinese movies without delays, as well as open modern Chinese movies to a broader North American audience, and thereby help promote Chinese culture. I believe this is a strong win-win partnership,” Bona topper Dong Yu said in a statement.

Wang Zhonglei, prexy of Huayi, said China Lion had broken important ground in reaching North American auds in the past year.

“We believe their management team will continue to build Chinese distribution in the important North America marketplace supported by strong partnerships such as AMC. We look forward to not only assisting the company with those endeavors in North America, but being a valued conduit in production and distribution in China and throughout Asia,” he said.

China Lion CEO Milt Barlow said the deal would “provide China Lion with vertical integration in distribution and production both within and outside China.”

China Lion, which is headquartered in L.A. and has offices in Toronto, Sydney, Beijing and Auckland, became the first distributor to release major Chinese theatrical features day-and-date with China as part of a deal with U.S. cinema chain AMC.

As well as North America, China Lion distributes in Australia and New Zealand, and has just commenced distribution in the U.K. Org is also looking to co-produce a number of major features over the next year.

During its first year it has released 12 pics, including tentpoles by Feng Xiaogang — “Aftershock” and “If You Are the One 2,” “What Women Want” and the propaganda epic “The Beginning of the Great Revival.”

It has also joined forces with Fox International Productions in handling the release of FIP co-productions “The Butcher, the Chef & the Swordsman” and “Love in Space.”

Deal was announced at a cocktail party in L.A. attended by Gang Tong, director of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television’s State Film Bureau.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Lindsay Lindenbaum on 'Tomboy,' Female Drummers,

    How 'Tomboy' Filmmaker Used SXSW Cancellation to Fine-Tune Her Film

    “Tomboy” filmmaker Lindsay Lindenbaum spent five years following four female drummers trying to make it in a male-dominated world. Lindenbaum profiles Bobbye Hall, a drummer who started at Motown Records in the late ’60s and later toured with Bob Dylan. Samantha Maloney, whose obsession with MTV’s “Headbangers Ball” as a teenager led her to fall [...]

  • Wonder Woman 1984

    Will the Coronavirus Pandemic Wipe Out All of Summer Blockbuster Season?

    Say goodbye to blockbuster season — at least for this year. After would-be summer hits from Disney, Warner Bros., and Universal already vacated their release dates, Sony Pictures announced Monday that its comic book adventure “Morbius,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and virtually all of its upcoming tentpoles were being moved into the fall or beyond. It was [...]

  • Dodgers Stadium Empty

    Movie Theaters and Concerts Could See Major Attendance Drop Post-Pandemic (Study)

    After a month of increasing anxiety and self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic, audiences in the U.S. are largely not eager to return to public events once the crisis subsides, according to a new study. In a survey of 1,000 consumers in the U.S., 44% of respondents said they would attend fewer large public events, [...]

  • 'Dolphin Reef' Review: A Dazzling Look

    'Dolphin Reef' on Disney Plus: Film Review

    Out of the vast universe of nature documentaries, I don’t think I’m alone in finding films about life under the sea to occupy a special place. The very fact that they exist, of course, is amazing — though when you watch one, part of the wonder is that you’re not thinking about how aquamarine filmmakers [...]

  • CONJURING DAD – In Disney and

    What's Coming to Disney Plus in April 2020

    Disney Plus will continue to expand its library next month, adding older films as well as new episodes of its original programming. Less than a month after its release on March 6, Pixar’s “Onward” is making an early jump to Disney’s streaming platform amid the coronavirus pandemic. With the vast majority of theaters now closed [...]

  • Black AF Netflix

    Everything Coming to Netflix in April

    As everyone continues to self-quarantine and practice social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no better “at-home” activity than catching up on all the new films and shows streaming on Netflix this April. A number of new series are set to premiere on the streaming platform, including “Never Have I Ever,” “#BlackAf,” “OuterBanks,” “The [...]

  • Steven Spielberg AFI Movie Club

    Steven Spielberg Launches AFI's New Movie Club With 'The Wizard of Oz'

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate and Americans face more time in quarantine, “There’s no place like home” resonates in an entirely different way, with the power to save millions – not just Dorothy. Aiming to encourage social distancing, the American Film Institute announced the launch of the AFI Movie Club with the help [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content