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Pinewood Inks Pact With China’s Seven Stars

Companies set up 50:50 joint venture titled Song Lin

LONDON — The U.K.’s Pinewood Shepperton is the latest company to tap into the rapidly growing Chinese market, setting up a 50-50 joint venture with Chinese entrepreneur Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Media.

Wu, Seven Stars’ chairman and CEO, said he and Pinewood had identified a “significant number of business opportunities for the short, medium and long term.”

He said the new venture – called Song Lin, which means pine forest in Mandarin – aims to create co-production opportunities for Chinese producers, export Chinese film and TV overseas and improve the standard of media production in the country.

Pinewood will provide expertise and capital investment in the venture, which will create film and TV diploma courses to be delivered by U.K. educational institutions in Beijing, Tianjin and four other Chinese cities.

It will also develop production financing and related services for Chinese film and TV projects and set up film-themed entertainment venues in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.

Pinewood Shepperton  operates Pinewood, Shepperton and Teddington Studios in Blighty and provides services to the film and TV industry. Seven Stars is part of one of China’s leading private media groups, producing and distributing content and providing media services and events.

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“The Chinese market for content is the fastest growing in the world and taking Pinewood’s experience and skills to that market in partnership with such an established and successful local partner is a truly exciting prospect,” said Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy. “The partnership represents a strategic step forward for Pinewood’s international development. If successful, the joint venture could provide significant opportunities for U.K. film and TV producers.”

China’s entertainment and media market is worth $137.5 billion and is expected to grow 40% to $192.5 billion by 2016. China’s filmed entertainment market is worth $4.5 billion and is estimated to grow 65% to $7.4 billion by 2016.

Last year saw China become the top international market for theatrical box office, overtaking Japan. The country’s ticket sales generated $2.7 billion, rising 36% from 2011. The country has seen massive rise in box office with revenues topping $2 billion for the first time in 2011. It is estimated to hit $3.5 billion this year and $6.5 billion by 2017.

The number of companies making links in China has grown rapidly since Warner Bros. started the trend back in 2004, when it partnered with the China Film Group and Hengdian Group to create Warner China Film HG Corp.

Recent film co-productions include Keanu Reeves’ helming debut “Man of Tai Chi,” a co-production between Village Roadshow and the China Film Group and Dalian Wanda Group, and “Iron Man 3,” a co-production between Marvel Studios, Walt Disney’s China Division and China’s DMG Entertainment. DMG also co-produced last year’s sci-fi “Looper.”

Paramount recently announced it would team with state-run broadcaster CCTV’s China Movie Channel and its online movie service partner Jiaflix Enterprises to co-produce Michael Bay’s fourth installment in the “Transformers” franchise in China.

Twentieth Century Fox has done multiple deals with Chinese companies including Bona Film Group and Dalian Wanda. The studio recently announced a pact with China Film Group to co-produce historical drama “Tragedy of the Chinese Laborers,” helmed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Chow Yun Fat, Liam Neeson and Fan Bingbing, who makes her Hollywood debut in “Iron Man 3.”

Pictured (left to right): Seven Stars Entertainment CEO Fred Milstein, Seven Stars chairman-CEO Bruno Wu, Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy and Pinewood chairman Michael Grade.

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