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‘Counter Spy’ Kicks off U.S.-China Pact for H Collective and iQIYI

Action comedy, “Counter Spy” is the first film set up under a pact between The H Collective and Chinese streaming giant iQIYI. The deal calls for co-production of three movies.

“Counter Spy” is currently being rewritten by former Marvel exec Craig Kyle (“Thor: Ragnarok,” “Iron Man”) from an original draft by David Rothenberg and Lionel Enns. The story follows a barista working at the CIA headquarters in Virginia who becomes tangled up in a secret mission involving Chinese counterparts. Production is slated to begin in early 2019.

Under the terms of the three-picture agreement, iQIYI will handle theatrical and digital distribution of The H Collective co-production films in China.

The deal was unveiled at iQIYI’s annual Technology & Entertainment World conference in China. Details of the two other films included in the deal were not disclosed.

By some measures, China’s largest streaming platform, iQIYI recently completed an IPO in the U.S. It claims nearly 6 billion hours spent on the service each month and over 500 million monthly users. The company has deals with overseas partners including Netflix, Lionsgate, Warner Bros., Fox, NBCU and the BFI.

Launched last year, production and finance firm, the H Collective already has a track record of working with Chinese partners. It was a minority investor in “Wolf Warrior II,” which became the highest grossing film of all time in China. With an eye on China, H Collective also recently acquired rights to the “xXx” franchise. The most recent title “The Return of Xander Cage” grossed $164 million in China, compared with $44.9 million in North America. The H Collective’s talent management arm represents Chinese stars Li Bingbing and Karry Wang.

Kyle has developed, produced and written some of Marvel’s most popular original films and animated series. He was executive producer on “Thor” and “Thor: The Dark World.”

H Collective’s other deals include an agreement with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) to distribute and market up to four films per year globally (outside of China); production deals with James Gunn, with whom it is currently in post-production on an untitled horror thriller directed by David Yarovesky and starring Elizabeth Banks. It is also in post-production on Christopher Cantwell’s “The Parts You Lose,” produced by Mark Johnson under his Gran Via banner; and the rights to Aaron W. Sala’s horror thriller spec script “The Beast.”

“We are so proud to partner with iQiyi in China, rounding out our distribution pipeline for The H Collective’s films around the globe,” CEO Nic Crawley said in a prepared statement.

“We are very confident that through our respective strengths, our solid partnership will produce excellent films for both China and the international market, including North America,” president of iQiyi Pictures Ya Ning said.

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