Leading Korean independent distributor Next Entertainment World and Chinese media group Huace Media have launched HUACE&NEW (Huacehexin), a joint venture production company. The deal is a further step in the relationship between the two companies that started in October last year. That saw Huace pay $52 million for a 15% stake in NEW ahead of NEW’s flotation on the Korean stock market. At the time they promised to set up a joint production company that would make at least two film per year.
Details of the joint venture were announced at the Grand Hotel in Busan on Monday evening. With executives present, they unveiled three co-developed projects.
These include a Chinese version of “The Beauty Inside,” a high-concept social drama that was created by Intel and Toshiba, helmed by Drake Doremus and launched on Facebook in 2012. NEW and Huace developed the project in two separate versions, and completed the Korean version first, which made has made $13.8 million from ticket sales in Korea. The Chinese version will be directed by Baik, who previously directed the Korean version.
Drama-thriller, “The Phone,” which is set for an Oct. 22 release in Korea, is another title that will shortly be introduce in Chinese. It is the story of a lawyer who receives a phone call from his deceased wife who was murdered in the previous year.
Previously announced, “Witch” is a live-action adaptation of a Korean web-toon, that is being simultaneously developed in Korea and China. Leste Chen, the Taiwanese director of previous China-Korea collaboration and megahit “20! Once Again,” and Kim Dae-woo (“Obsessed”) are set as the executive artistic co-directors of both versions of “The Witch.” Each version will have separate directors, not yet announced.
While many previous Korea-China co-productions were set up in the form of remakes, these new projects have been co-developed from the script stage. “The two companies will together be able to showcase contents that are best localized to fit the ever-growing Chinese market and increase the cultural diversity not only in Asia but also the world,” said Kim Woo-taek, NEW CEO.
The launch event was attended by BIFF honorary director Kim Dong-ho, festival co-directors Lee Yong-kwan and Kang Soo-youn, KOFIC chairman Kim Sae-hoon, Myung Film CEO and Korean Film Producers Association head Lee Eun, and Lee Choon-yun, CEO of Cine2000 and President of the Korean Association of Film Art & Industry.
(Pictured: Huace Pictures’ Zhang hao, left, and NEW CEO Kim Woo-taek announced their partnership on Monday in Busan.)