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Disney Expands Relationship With China’s Shanghai Media Group

Disneynature film “Born in China” will be one of the first titles to flow from an expanded relationship between the Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Media Group.

Where a previous deal established a multi-year studio movie script and talent development fund, and a 2013 deal launched kids entertainment cooperation with SMG subsidiary BesTV, the new strategic relationship spans television content development, movie co-production, content distribution, and co-operation on marketing.

“Born in China,” which is currently in production, will showcase the spectacular wildlife and natural beauty of China including rare footage of endangered snow leopards. A worldwide theatrical release is anticipated for 2016.

Disney said it is also in active discussion with SMG’s kids and family entertainment unit Toonmax to produce a children’s animation series that centers on one of China’s most popular cultural icons. The show is intended for global distribution.

“The strength of this deepening relationship with Disney, and the volume and diversity of the initiatives that we are pursuing, helps set the foundation of a multi-faceted strategic alliance with Disney,” said Li Ruigang, SMG chairman. “[The deals] will serve as the cornerstone of actualizing SMG’s vision in applying world-class creative process; contribute towards the success of local content creation for international markets and create new business models across both digital media and traditional spaces.”

“This unique and far reaching cooperation between Disney and SMG is testimony to the strength of our 15-year relationship and commitment to serving audiences with world class family entertainment,” said Stanley Cheung, chairman, The Walt Disney Company Greater China.

Following on from the BesTV agreement, the two companies said that they are now “in the final steps of registering, a joint venture company in Shanghai that will expand families’ and kids’ digital choices.

Disney is also at the centre of building a new theme park in China. Shanghai Disney Resort is a joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group. Disney will own 43% of shares of the park, but have a 70% stake in the joint venture management company.

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