Donald Tang’s Tang Media Partners has struck a pact with China Everbright and Tencent Films to acquire Hollywood movies. The deal foresees the acquisition of 10 to 20 titles per year – but only two or three of which would be released theatrically in China.
The deal is part of a raft of growth initiatives that TMP announced Monday in Hong Kong, ahead of an intended IPO.
Tang said that TMP is aiming for a share flotation in the next 18 to 24 months; the group is currently putting together a round of pre-IPO financing. But Tang said any IPO would depend on market conditions and timing. He also declined to commit to a particular stock market for the eventual flotation.
Kevin Kang, head of TMP China, said that the acquisition strategy includes an upstream investment component and that the acquisition teams currently being assembled will be working across the range of TMP activities, as well as for TMP’s partner companies. Kang said that only two or three of the jointly acquired films per year would be headed for theatrical release in China.
In a related move, TMP has agreed to work with Tencent Penguin Pictures to co-invest and co-develop a TV series based on Meng Ru Shen’s “Dian Dao Wei Zhi,” which they jointly acquired in October.
A third deal sees TMP working with Reliance Entertainment to import Indian movies into China. Indian films have recently been on a roll at the Chinese box office. While the reverse has not yet proved true, the pair also aim to introduce more Chinese films in India.
The moves in China follow the build-out of Los Angeles-based Global Road Entertainment, the company formed last year through the merger of sales and finance group IM Global and North American distributor Open Road, both of which TMP acquired.
China’s giant Tencent group has expanded from games and social media into streaming video, music and, increasingly, content production. Both Tencent Films and Penguin Pictures are production wings. Tencent is also a minority investor in TMP, and previously struck a television production pact with IM Global. Reliance, part of the Reliance ADA Group, was a major investor in IM Global prior to IM Global’s sale.
Global Road said that it has struck a deal with Lorenzo di Bonaventura to produce thriller “The Last Masters,” written by Alex Tse. The film is to be structured as a China- U.S. co-production and aims to give fresh insight into martial arts.
TMP described the latest development as expression of a “dual-core strategy” that includes access to China while also including”superior Hollywood storytelling.”
“TMP China will make films, TV digital shows for Chinese market for Chinese audiences, in Chinese language with Hollywood magic. In time we will find Chinese stores which can be hits in Hollywood and the world. We have the DNA for all this under one roof,” TMP founder Tang said.
“TMP China and its predecessor, IM Global China, is a pioneer in introducing Chinese-language content to the rest of the world, having maintained a leading market position for nearly a decade. TMP believes in the strong global potential of high-quality Chinese content and will continue to invest heavily in this area.”
In Berlin, in February, Global Road told buyers and finance partners that it would put up $1 billion in production finance over the next three years as it sets out to be a new mini-studio. The figure comes as Global Road plans to issue 15 to 20 wide-release movies per year in the U.S. and Canada by 2020. Production budgets are expected in the $20 million to $100 million range.
“The Last Masters” follows three generations of martial arts fighters who must come together to vanquish an international operation that unites legit pharmaceuticals with the world’s most powerful drug kingpins. Production will be located in China and other international sites.
Tse is best known for writing Zack Snyder’s adaptation of “Watchmen.” He also wrote the script for the remake of Sony Pictures’ “SuperFly,” which is currently in production. The production will be overseen by Lynn Harris, Global Road Entertainment’s president of worldwide production.
“Working with [di Bonaventura] on our first Chinese co-production is a great way to jump start this part of our business and is the start of what we hope are many collaborations to come,” said Rob Friedman, Global Road chairman and CEO.