×

Paramount’s New Chief Jim Gianopulos Revives $1 Billion China Slate Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

Paramount Pictures has revived its $1 billion slate deal with two Chinese media companies, which was presumed dead last month, according to several sources.

The studio’s new Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who took over the studio in March, traveled to Beijing last week to try and resurrect the deal with Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media. He was accompanied on the trip by a Viacom executive as well as some Paramount colleagues, including worldwide marketing and distribution president Megan Colligan. The Paramount team was there to promote this summer’s tentpole sequel “Transformers: The Last Knight” at the Beijing International Film Festival.

First announced in January, the Chinese financing deal hit a roadblock in March as China continued to apply greater scrutiny to overseas investments.

Though listed on the Shanghai stock exchange, Shanghai Film Group remains majority state-owned. State-owned companies have been subject to especially strict regulation on overseas investment since the Chinese government began its measures in November to bolster its currency and curb speculation. Huahua Media has significant operations offshore, and was able to provide its share of the payments under the agreement. But Shanghai Film Group struggled to hold up its end of the bargain.

The deal was originally brokered by Brad Grey, who was then Paramount’s chairman and CEO. Grey departed in February, leaving a question as to whether the Chinese investors would choose to stay in the deal under Paramount’s new leadership.

As originally announced, the co-financing agreement would have the two Chinese firms investing in all of Paramount’s films over the next three years. Sources in China close to the deal said the parties discussed with Gianopulos what specific films they were going to invest in. It’s believed that the resurrected deal did not include all of the movies on Paramount’s slate. They also said the parties have an option to extend for a fourth year on the same terms. The two Chinese firms would have their own office on the Paramount lot.

Both companies have previously partnered with Paramount on individual films. Huahua Media, a marketing and distribution firm, partnered on the marketing of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Star Trek Beyond,” among others, while Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media were invovled with the China release of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.”

Last year, Paramount seriously explored selling a 49% stake to China’s Dalian Wanda Group, but the Viacom board ultimately rejected the plan.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Latin Recording Academy Names Manuel Abud

    Latin Recording Academy Names Manuel Abud COO

    As it celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Latin Recording Academy today announced several key changes to its leadership team. Former Azteca America president/CEO Manuel Abud has been named the organization’s chief operating officer, while 19-year Latin Grammy vet Luis Dousdebes takes on the new position of Chief Awards, Membership and Preservation Officer. Also, Aida Scorza, who has worked [...]

  • 'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Sees New

    'OpenAP' CEO David Levy Charts New Course

    A consortium built by some of the nation’s biggest media outlets to win new kinds of advertising is quickly changing its course. Founded in 2017 by Viacom, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, OpenAP was initially designed to help marketers figure out ways to buy advertising based on reaching segments of audience that aren’t defined [...]

  • Spin Lab

    Big Deal Inks Joint Venture With Ricky Reed’s Nice Life Company

    Independent music publisher Big Deal Music Group announced today that they have signed a joint venture deal with Nice Life Copyright Company, the music publishing company founded by Grammy-nominated producer/ writer/ artist Ricky Reed.  Under the terms of the agreement, Big Deal will administer songs for Nice Life, and the two companies will join forces [...]

  • Barron HiltonBarron Hilton 1990

    Famed Hotelier Barron Hilton Dies at 91

    Barron Hilton, a famed hotelier who helped expand the Hilton Hotels empire and a founding owner of the Chargers NFL football team, has died, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced. He was 91. “Today the world of hospitality mourns for one of the greats. Barron Hilton was an incredible family man, business leader and philanthropist. [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content