Shi Jianxiang, Chinese businessman and producer of upcoming Bruce Willis film “The Bombing,” has resigned as executive chairman of ShiFang Holdings. The listed Hong Kong company is linked to recent box office and securities industries incidents in mainland China.
Shi had more than two and a half years to run on his three-year contract as chairman. ShiFang offered no explanation for Shi’s departure, but said that it would seek a replacement.
Shi and Hong Kong producer-director Tsui Siuming took control of the shell company between the end of 2016 and the first months of 2016, turning it into the beginnings of an entertainment and finance conglomerate. Through a company its owns, ShiFang has a contract which gives it 55% of the net theatrical box office in mainland China from the Hong Kong martial arts film “Ip Man 3.”
The film starring Donnie Yen and Mike Tyson was released in China on Feb. 29 and registered a first week box office score of $72 million. However, China’s film industry regulator quickly penalized the film’s distributor Max Screen, ticketing agencies and a number of cinemas for inflating the film’s performance. They were reported to have bought $8.66 million (RMB56 million) of tickets to their own movie, created fake screenings and set artificially high ticket prices.
Popular on Variety
ShiFang has insisted that is only an investor in the film rights of “Ip Man 3” and did not participate in the release of the movie in China. However, ShiFang in February announced that it would invest in Jinlu Financial Advisors, a mainland Chinese securities firm controlled by Shi’s Kailu Investments.
Jinlu was last week was plunged into turmoil when hundreds of private investors visited its offices in Shanghai to demand repayment of investment products, some of which are reported to have been derivatives based on the Chinese theatrical performance of movies.
According to a statement on Jinlu’s website, the company is currently facing a $46 million (RMB300 million) cash shortage, and will try to come up with a payment plan within a week.
Kailu and Shi are credited as producers of upcoming 3D epic war movie “The Bombing,” which has a multinational cast headed by Bruce Willis, Adrien Brody, Fan Bingbing, and Nicholas Tse and a budget of $107 million (RMB700 million.) Shi is also the “Chinese executive producer” of the upcoming “Expendables 4.”
- In an apparently unrelated development, Monday, producer Raymond Wong Pak-ming announced that he has increased his already controlling share stake in “Ip Man 3” production house Pegasus Entertainment. Wong bought 10 million shares in the open market, lifting his holding to 49.3% of the company, which has a market capitalization of US$122 million (HK$946 million.)