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Cristal Pictures Launches by Backing Ryan Reynolds’ ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’

In the latest investment by China in Hollywood, finance-production company Cristal Pictures has come on board to co-produce and co-finance Ryan Reynolds’ action-comedy “Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

Los Angeles-based Cristal Pictures made the announcement as part of disclosing that it has been founded and bankrolled by China’s East Light Film Company to finance and produce mid-to-high range budgeted, English-language motion pictures for domestic and global theatrical distribution. Cristal’s co-CEOs are veteran execs Chris Liu and Scott Einbinder.

East Light is based in Beijing and Hong Kong and headed by Liu. To support Cristal’s long-term business plan, East Light has additionally raised substantial equity from several China, Hong Kong and South East Asian-based investors.

“Hitman’s Bodyguard,” directed by Patrick Hughes, is in post-production. It also stars Samuel Jackson, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek.

The film is also financed by Millennium Films with Lionsgate Films set to release in North America on Aug. 16, 2017. Cristal retains Chinese distribution rights and plans to release in China through East Light day-and-date with North America.

Einbinder is running day-to-day operations at Cristal Films and will announce a head of development and production, as well as additional staffing, in the coming weeks.

Veteran film executive Dongbing Shan has joined Cristal as a senior adviser. He started in the film business with China Film Group in 1985, and has since served as a senior executive and consultant with such entertainment companies as Fosun, Le Vision, News Corp, DTS, PolyBona, Busan International Film Festival, Asian Film Awards and the Macau International Film Festival.

“The kinds of film projects we are looking to produce will reflect the needs and practicality of the global market,” Einbinder said. “We are in the business to make theatrical, commercial motion pictures that appeal to both domestic and worldwide audiences, with a preference for strong stories and characters that will also resonate with Chinese moviegoers as well, considering, naturally, the ever expanding Chinese marketplace which should surpass our own in the next year or so.”

Cristal Pictures said it has the financial capacity to fully finance and produce its projects as official Chinese co-productions or as movies to be distributed in China through the import quota, with built-in exhibition access to China’s massive film-going audience.

“East Light is unique in its foray into the U.S. film business,” Liu said. “We believe we differ from companies that have already entered the U.S. marketplace with a solid capital base like Wanda, DMG, Tencent, Perfect World or Alibaba in that we are first and foremost a film production company with a proven track record in China, dedicated to financing and producing, promoting and distributing motion pictures.”

Einbinder served as an executive at several motion picture production companies, including Sandstorm Films. Production credits include William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe,” starring Matthew McConaughey, “The  Forsaken” and “The Covenant.”

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