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China’s Huayi Brothers to Partner with STX Entertainment on 18-Movie Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

Robert SimondsSTX Entertainment is close to securing a three-year deal to produce 18 films with China’s Huayi Brothers Media, Variety has learned.

Huayi revealed a partnership with an unnamed U.S. entity on Monday, as part of a regulatory filing in China. The U.S. company was not named.

However, sources tell Variety that STX is the Hollywood company that has landed the lucrative pact.

Steve Elzer, a spokesman for STX, said that the company does not comment on rumors.

STX launched last March and was created by longtime producer Simonds with the goal of fielding eight to 10 movies a year, with budgets ranging from $20 million to $80 million. The company already has a Chinese investor in Hony Capital. Its other backers include private equity giant TPG and OddLot Entertainment co-founder Gigi Pritzker.

In addition to its theatrical plans, STX also has a pay TV distribution deal with Showtime that runs through 2019.

Huayi sources have said that any deal with STX is subject to a system of internal shareholder approvals and that might mean it will be a further two weeks before the company officially names its U.S. partner.

Should it be approved, however, Huayi will use its U.S. subsidiary to help fund, produce and distribute 18 feature films through 2017. Huayi’s U.S. unit was founded in September with $130 million in startup capital.

STX has a number of projects already on its slate, including the Matthew McConaughey vehicle “The Free State of Jones,” written, directed and produced by Gary Ross; an untitled thriller from micro-budget maestro Jason Blum (“The Purge”); and a remake of “The Secret in Their Eyes,” with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts starring and Billy Ray directing from his own script.

Hollywood studios have courted Chinese money assiduously, but very few deals have actually materialized. China’s Fosun has pacted with Jeff Robinov’s new Studio 8 outfit, Dalian Wanda Group owns AMC Theatres, and Alibaba has flirted with investing in and partnering with various studios, but they remain the exception, not the rule.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Studio 8’s partner as Bona Film Group.

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