LONDON — Chinese private equity fund China Film and TV Capital, which controls funds totaling RMB 2 billion ($322 million), has teamed up with European movie company Wild Bunch to form the China Europe Film Fund.
The new fund, which is dedicated to the development and financing of films co-produced by Chinese and European producers, was launched during the official visit to France by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday.
The agreement allows Wild Bunch, which is listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, to “confirm its strategy and its ambition to transform the company into an undisputed leader in the filmed entertainment industry, growing fast and profitably,” the company said in a statement.
The China Europe Film Fund (CEFF) is structured as a private equity fund and says its mission is “the development and financing of pictures co-produced by Chinese and European producers.”
Its first operations will be financing co-production projects. “It will gradually increase its financial resources by attracting other investors, while expanding its field of investment to other private equity segment in the entertainment world,” the backers said in a statement.
Film co-productions are attracting growing interest as European producers seek to break into the massive Chinese film market, which is largely dominated by local titles and Hollywood blockbusters. Co-productions are seen as a route around China’s import quota system and several European governments including the U.K., France, Italy and the Netherlands, have signed bilateral production treaties with China.
Wild Bunch recently handled regional sales on “Wolf Totem,” one of only four French-Chinese co-productions in the past ten years. The film was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud and was proposed by China as its contender for the foreign language Oscar, but the submission was rejected by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences on the grounds that the film did not contain enough Chinese elements.
Vincent Grimond, CEO and co-founder of Wild Bunch, said: “For Wild Bunch, this [fund] is a natural evolution, as we have always had strong connections with China, which we view both as a formidable market and as an amazing source of talents and movies.”
Grimond added: “The co-production possibilities between China and Europe, resulting from the constant efforts of the authorities of several European countries, with France at the forefront, create the perfect environment for this partnership. This is definitely extremely important for Wild Bunch’s development strategy and growth, but we also hope to make it an example of success, at the key confluence of cultural and industrial cooperation.”
Entertainment investment fund, CFATC has high profile backers including China Film Foundation, the State-owned Cultural Assets Supervision and Administration Office of the Beijing Municipal Government, Beijing Cultural Investment Development Group, Jackie Chan’s Sparkle Roll Group and CITIC Asset Management Corporation. It is involved in “creative financial tools and cutting-edge VC investment concept, focusing on films, TV dramas as well as cinema chains and equity investment in companies on the film and TV industrial chain.
The deal was initiated and facilitated by Eastward Entertainment’s Vincent Fischer, who acts as an adviser for Wild Bunch in China, and is a board member of CEFF.
Signatories at the ceremony included: Frederique Bredin, president of Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animee, Jean-Paul Salome president of Unifrance, and from the Chinese side Zhang Hongsen, president of SARFT Film Bureau, Zhang Pimin, chairman of China Film Foundation and former VP of SARFT, and Xu Shujun, VP of China Film Coproduction Corporation.