FilMart: Two Fox Units Combine Forces for Expanded Chinese Production

Two 20th Century Fox divisions — Fox International Productions and Fox Networks Group Asia –have joined forces to expand their commitment to production of Chinese-language content.

Both have been active in the region on their own accounts. Combining their efforts is intended to create a larger and more diversified platform for local creatives to work with the studio.

The joint remit spans local development, co-production and remakes, with output including feature films, mini-series and TV series. The first project will likely be unveiled this year and start production in 2017.

“Greater China, and Asia overall, represent a very significant portion of our strategic focus on the production of feature films globally. FIP joining forces with Fox Networks Group Asia will now solidly position us as a go-to, one-stop shop for our local partners, and amongst the creative community overall in the region,” said Tomas Jegeus, president of FIP.

“There is an appetite for high-quality, Chinese-language content and FNG, through our well established and renowned channel brand SCM (formerly Star Chinese Movies), is perfectly placed to drive positive developments in this area,” said Zubin Gandevia, president of FNG Asia.

The announcement came on the eve of FilMart, the four-day (March 14-18) Hong Kong market which remains the leading rights event in Asia.

While the interest in China of Fox’s Rupert Murdoch has been buffeted by regulatory obstacles, and at times over the past decade has appeared to waver, the FIP-FNG agreement underlines a Fox commitment to local film-making and TV production in Greater China.

The potential is huge. China’s box office last year exceeded $6.5 billion and is expected to equal or overtake that of North America by 2017. A significant part of that growth has come from the success of Chinese talent working in local and contemporary genres, and box office for Chinese-made films grew by 60% last year.

The success of Chinese-made content and the scale of the market has prompted other Hollywood-affiliated companies, including Legendary Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation and Village Roadshow, to set up production operations within Greater China. Warner Bros. last year established Flagship Entertainment, a joint venture with China Media Capital, as a vehicle to make Chinese-language blockbusters for local and global consumption. The company will make a presentation later this week in FilMart.

In China, FIP has co-financed and co-developed films including “Hot Summer Days;” “The Butcher, The Chef & The Swordsman;” “Love in Space;” and “Kwai Boo: Crazy Space Adventure.” It has been associated with financier-producer Ivanhoe Pictures and with China’s Bona Film Group in a five film deal. Fox also took an investment stake in Bona, before selling out some two years later. The only film to emerge from the Fox-Bona production relationship was the 2015 Chinese remake of “Bride Wars,” which was mauled  by critics, but was strongly profitable with a $27.5 million gross on a $3.8 million budget.

FIP continues to search for and develop new talent through its partnership with FilMart companion event HAF, one of Asia’s most established project markets.

Tomas Jegeus, a former Hong Kong resident, and who was previously co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution for 20th Century Fox, took over as president of FIP in August last year.

FNG Asia and SCM have co-produced and distributed a number of movies, including “Sara;” “Ah Boys To Men 3;” “Full Strike;” “1965;” “Let’s Eat;” and “Go Lala Go 2.”

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