Wong Kar-wai, Chinese cinema’s best known auteur, will make a foray into Web content with a new series that he will produce and partly direct.
The series, which currently has no English-language title, will be made as part of a new agreement between Wong and Huanxi Media, the budding media conglomerate headed by producer and businessman Dong Ping. Huanxi said that the series would include two seasons, with a total of 18 episodes.
Huanxi will put up US$3.1 – $3.85 million (RMB20-25 million) per episode of the series through a development fund. Some $15.4 million (RMB100 million) is payable on signing the deal.
The series will be made under Wong’s Master China Films company. Master China is the new production entity for Chinese-language content and original programming under Wong’s 25-year old Jet Tone Films.
In a separate deal, Huanxi will also back a number of films made by another Hong Kong leading light Peter Chan Ho-sun.
Huanxi will issue shares representing 4.15% of it enlarged equity to Master China and 5.9% of its enlarged equity to Chan. Both film makers will join Huanxi’s artistic advisory committee.
The deal with Master China gives Huanxi exclusive global Internet rights to Wong’s productions for a ten year period and sees Wong grant Huanxi priority investment positions in his other works.
The deal with Chan gives Huanxi the right to invest up to 60% in at least two of Chan’s upcoming productions, and puts it in priority position to buy the Internet rights. Huanxi will put up US$12.9 million (HK$100 million) for a Chan development fund.
The two deals are familiar territory for all three parties. Dong, who has production credits including “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” and Stephen Chow’s “Journey To The West,” previously reversed his mainland Chinese media interests into ChinaVision, a Hong Kong- and Singapore-listed company that he later sold to Alibaba, China’s e-commerce giant. Alibaba later renamed it Alibaba Pictures Group. Before selling it, Dong struck similar overhead and priority investment deals with both Wong and Chan.
Wong now has deals with both Alibaba Pictures and with Huanxi. Chan now has deals with Alibaba, Huanxi and Flagship Entertainment, the joint venture between Warner Bros., China Media Capital and TVB.