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China’s Taihe Rides with France’s Wild Bunch

Partners create Beijing-based sales-distribution company

PARIS — Taihe Pictures, one of China’s fastest-growing film groups, is joining forces with European mini-major Wild Bunch to create a Beijing-based sales and distribution company.

Aiming to become a leading international sales banner operating from China, the new shingle — named Taihe Wild Bunch — will focus on scouting for Chinese talent; exploiting Wild Bunch’s catalog, including remake rights; and nabbing worldwide distribution rights for Chinese movies with an international potential.

Wild Bunch is well-poised to expand its geographical footprint in China: The company is no stranger to the country’s film biz and has long-standing relationships with the local talent pool, having backed, sold and distributed many Chinese movies over the years.

Wild Bunch co-founder Brahim Chioua co-produced Chen Kaige’s “The Emperor and the Assassin,” the biggest Chinese production at the time, in 1998. Wild Bunch co-chief Vincent Maraval co-produced Lou Ye’s “Purple Butterfly.”

Since its launch, Wild Bunch has sold Chinese movies in international markets, starting with Fruit Chan’s “Durian Durian.”

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More recently, Wild Bunch sold Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grand Masters”; and it co-produced and distributed Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Wolf Totem.” Wild Bunch also sold many of Zhang Yimou’s films, including “Under the Hawthorne Tree.”

“We have been wanting to increase our involvement with the Chinese movie industry for quite a while now, and we feel like we found the right partner, both to develop our ability to expose Chinese movies abroad, and to strengthen our distribution power in China,” Maraval said. “We look forward to supplementary opportunities with our new partner on this very exciting market.”

Chuck Zhang, general manager of Taihe Pictures, said: “The core of the Chinese film industry has limited contact with the international market and that is what we intend to address. We will seek to use international partners and to apply financially sound criteria to create a boutique catalog.”

Wild Bunch had seven films playing at Cannes, including the Palme d’Or winning “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.

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