Former Focus Features chief James Schamus is entering the booming Chinese entertainment market, teaming with startup Meridian Entertainment through his Symbolic Exchange banner.
The alliance will also provide development and production funding for Symbolic’s English-language slate, along with co-development of Chinese projects. Schamus will also serve as a chief creative and strategic adviser to Meridian as it seeks to widen its investments outside China.
“This is a perfect start for Meridian Entertainment,” Meridian’s Jennifer Dong said in a statement. “While we continue to build our portfolio in China, the world’s fastest-growing film market, we know that the foundation to success is still great films by great filmmakers, working globally across cultures, and this is precisely the track record that James brings to our venture.”
Schamus was ousted from Focus in 2013. He is about to make his feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s “Indignation.”
He’s also known for his long collaboration with Ang Lee, writing many of the screenplays for the director’s works, such as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “The Ice Storm” and “The Wedding Banquet.”
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“There’s nothing more exciting in this business than being able to work with people as they build something new from the ground up,” he said in a statement. “Jennifer and Meridian’s ambitions are paired with an independent spirit that will allow us to work on a broad array of projects together, in the U.S., in China, and around the world.”
Avy Eschenasy of Eschenasy Consulting negotiated on behalf of Symbolic. Figo Li coordinated the negotiation process.
Dong previously served as managing director and general manager of CFG-TA Digital Cinema Investment Co. and CEO of Universal Cinema Services Co. — a joint venture of TA and Christie Digital.