You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

$4.65 Billion Mega Pact With Ping An Boosts Huayi Brothers’ Leisure Plans

Leading Chinese film studio Huayi Brothers has outlined a RMB30 billion pact ($4.65 billion) with Ping An Bank to jointly develop cultural businesses, including film, Internet activities and notably theme parks.

The move is an extension of Huayi’s recent drive to develop film-related tourism in the country where movies are booming and the growing middle classes are swelling the volume of disposable income available for leisure.

The deal also follows close on the heels of a $540 million new investment into Huayi by Ping An, CITIC, Alibaba and Tencent, announced on Tuesday.

The agreement with Ping An was announced at a ceremony attended by leading director Feng Xiaogang and top actor Zhang Guoli. Neither Ping An or Huayi explained how they would fund the expansion, though they said they aim to create 20 theme parks.

A Feng Xiaogang-themed Movie Town was opened on China’s southern Hainan Island. It was the first stage of a $300 million project in which Feng is partnered with Huayi and the Mission Hills Group, which develops golf and leisure facilities.

Earlier this month Huayi became involved with China’s UTour international Service and the Italian National Tourist Board to operate “Only You” package holidays, which take holidaymakers to the locations in Italy where much of “Only You,” its Chinese remake of 1994 Marisa Tomei-Robert Downey Jr romantic comedy, was shot.

Hit movies have had dramatic effect on outbound tourism from China. 2012 hit “Lost In Thailand” has made Thailand, and Chiang Mai in particular, a top destination for Chinese tour groups. Earlier Feng’s “If You Are The One,” which was partially filmed in Japan, opened the eyes of thousands of Chinese tourists to the natural beauty of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.

Fosun, a giant Chinese conglomerate which has movie industry investments that include Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 and China’s Bona Film Group, has seen similar connections between movies and mass market travel. In the last year it acquired the French travel company Club Mediterranee and a 5% stake in Britain’s Thomas Cook holiday firm.

China is understood to have seen over 100 million outbound tourists last year.

Theme parks in China represent local travel destinations, with appeal to domestic travellers as well as to family groups and movie fans.

Disney and DreamWorks are both expected to open major theme parks next year, while Universal has one in prospect near Beijing.

The Chinese government has on occasion in the past attempted to slow the pace of development of theme parks. But the brakes seem to be off for the moment as the economy slows and the authorities try to engineer a consumption-led economy, rather than one built on state investment.

Huayi said that it is also looking at sports businesses, and in opportunities in South Korea and Japan.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content