Asia's Bona, CJ to co-produce movies
Projects will target the pan-Asian audienceSHANGHAI -- Asian media powerhouses Bona Entertainment and CJ Entertainment have signed an agreement to co-produce movies for the pan-Asian audience.
On the sidelines at the 13th Shanghai International Film Festival, CJ CEO Katherine Kim and Bona CEO Yu Dong said their work together on the 2009 Chinese boxoffice hit "Sophie's Revenge" led them to expand their cooperation.
"We're looking for films in all genres, as long as they will work as co-productions and work first in our home market," Kim said.
The companies have agreed initially to make at least two films a year with pan-Asian themes.
Beijing-based Bona, historically a distribution leader in China and a newcomer to film production with just two years under its belt, will handle distribution for all Chinese-speaking territories.
CJ, Korea's largest entertainment company, will handle distribution in Korea and Japan. The partners will decide how to carve up distribution to the rest of the world on a project-by-project basis, Kim said.
Faced with limited growth at home, CJ is expanding its reach into Japan and China, where a swelling middle class and a theater-building boom pushed 2009 boxoffice up 43% to $909 million.
"We're trying to broaden our focus in these territories to include romantic comedies, action-adventure films and even science fiction," said CJ's Mike Suh Hyun-dong, senior vp international finance and co-production.
Director Eva Jin's "Sophie's Revenge," starring Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and Korean actor So Ji-seob, grossed 100 million yuan ($14.6 million) in China, making it one of the top Chinese-language pics of 2009. It brought in another $1 million in Korea, Suh said.
For Bona, partnering with CJ would offer the chance to learn from an Asian company how to expand outside the region. CJ helped to fund the creation of DreamWorks and has long distributed its films and those of Paramount in Korea.
The right Bona film in CJ's hands also could tap South Korea's boxoffice, which grossed $1.5 billion in 2009.