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Shock waves of sorrow ripped through the Chinese film industry Wednesday as news spread that Huang Wei, an influential and widely liked senior executive at Bona Film Group, leapt to his death from an 18th-floor window at the company’s headquarters in central Beijing.
Bona released a statement over social media late Wednesday saying that Huang, a vice president at the company who oversaw its cinema division, had died at the age of 52. No other details were included.
Sources close to Bona tell The Hollywood Reporter that it is believed Huang jumped from an office window late Wednesday morning. The incident occurred at Bona’s corporate headquarters in the U-Center Building, a mixed-use commercial building in Beijing’s Chaoyang district.
Bona is among China’s top tier of film and media companies. The company produced or co-produced three of China’s 10 highest-grossing films of 2019, including The Captain ($410 million) and The Bravest ($237 million). The company also co-financed Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Huang joined Bona in 2009 from rival cinema circuit Stellar Cinemas. He was influential in Bona’s growth as a movie theater operator. The company now has approximately 80 cinemas in China.
News of his death — and its suspected cause — circulated rapidly through the Beijing film business over social media.
Leading Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke shared Bona’s statement on Weibo, writing simply, “Film industry grief.” Jerry Ye, former president at Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media, one of Bona’s biggest rivals, also posted just one word: “grief.” Many others shared emojis of a single candle burning.
Jimmy Wu, CEO of Chinese cinema chain Lumiere Pavilions, posted at length about Huang’s death, writing: “It’s so sudden! … On April 16th, we talked for more than half an hour! The call was mainly about the future of the cinema. He was a little depressed about the late opening of the cinema, and I talked a lot about the bright future of Chinese movies. … I didn’t expect to say good-bye after this conversation. Alas, I can not say a word. I sincerely hope that the relevant parties can let the movie theaters get back to work, so that staff can maintain a livelihood, in order to comfort Huang Wei’s spirit in heaven!”
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