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Distribution Successes Lift Profits at China’s Bona Film

HONG KONG — China’s Bona Film Group exceeded its own guidance with a third quarter net profit of $9.3 million. Net revenues were $100 million, compared with $35 million in the same period last year.

The numbers were driven by the runaway success of road movie “The Continent,” directed by first film by celebrity blogger and race driver Han Han. Bona also released “The White Haired Witch,” and two imported titles Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Pompeii” and Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Non Stop.”

Company founder and CEO Yu Dong described the result as a “tremendous success.”

In a conference call with financial analysts, Yu said that the company’s two main goals are to expand in the local Chinese business and in Hollywood, where Bona is planning to invest in and produce mainstream movies, making the company increasingly diversified and increasingly international. He said that the company’s focus on production and content ownership will stand it in good stead, even when compared with the financial fire power of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba and Wanda.

For the nine months to end of Sept. its revenues were $202 million ($107 million) and net profits of $7.99 million ($5.24 million). In forward guidance it said that last quarter profits would be in the $2.0-2.5 million range.

Yu said that the company had made efforts to strengthen its distribution team, to be able to vary marketing strategies and reach third-tier cities. “The Continent” scored RMB628 million ($102 million) at the box office, Bona’s highest ever gross. Released two weeks later “Witch” earned RMB390 million ($63.5 million). “Pompeii” scored RMB97.5 million ($15.9 million), “Non-Stop” managed RMB105 million ($17.1 million).

Yu said that the Tsui Hark-directed “The Taking of Tiger Mountain,” a 3D epic to be released on Dec. 24, could overtake “The Continent” to be the company’s biggest ever title at the box office. He revealed that the release date of Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster 3D” has now been pushed from this month to a Jan. 8, 2015 slot.

Yu revealed that it has green-lighted actioner “The Mekong River Action,” to be directed by Hong Kong’s Dante Lam, and “I am Somebody,” a drama about bit-part actors in Hengdian. Those were in addition to “Insanity” and a new Gordon Chan film “Secret Treasure,” the recently wrapped “Emperor Holidays” and “The Man From Macau 2.”

Bona’s multiplex business enjoyed revenue growth of 40% and ended the quarter with 22 theaters and 182 screens in operation. Yu said that it would open 6 more theaters with 60 screens by the end of the year.

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