The companies aim to co-develop and co-finance low budget genre movies, made in the Chinese language for consumption by Chinese audiences.
No production targets were set beyond the first picture, which is now at the scripting stage. The film has no title or director attached, but is expected to shoot at Blum’s U.S. facility within the next 12 months. Typically of Blum’s output, the budget ceiling is maximum of $5 million. China theatrical distribution is to be handled through TMP’s Chinese unit and local partnerships.
“We are looking to take our low budget system and apply it in China,” Blum told Variety. “We are looking at local books, local legends, and having local creatives at involved at the development and script stage.”
“Horror-thrillers are a relatively small part of the Chinese market. And the quality improvement has not been as fast as the audience demanded,” Tang told Variety. “So we are taking the master of the genre, and a brand, and will produce for a lower cost.”
The deal was announced at an event Monday, on the margins of the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Blumhouse has a formidable record in horror and low-budget genre fare. “Split” and “Get Out” scored at the box office last year following the successes of the “Purge,” “Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity,” and “Ouija” franchises. He has a 10-year first look deal with Universal and is currently expanding into TV. Blumhouse Television’s first “Sharp Objects,” premieres July 8 on HBO.
Blum has long been considering establishing a foothold in China. Blum made an exploratory business trip to Shanghai in January 2015, when completion bond company Film Finances opened its first China office.
Under the ownership of Chinese-American former banker, Donald Tang, TMP has built a media empire that includes significant Hollywood indie positions and a growing presence in China. Last year TMP acquired sales and finance company IM Global, which it merged with another acquisition, U.S. distributor Open Road. The combined Global Road operation debuted in Berlin this year, with the promise to put up $1 billion in production finance over the next three years. Global Road plans to issue 15 to 20 wide-release movies per year in the U.S. and Canada by 2020.
In April, TMP described its latest China developments as expression of a “dual-core strategy” that combines access to China with “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,” Tang said in April. TMP has more than a dozen staff in China with many in content development and IP roles.