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A new production company focused on Asian American content has launched with a majority investment from Valence Media, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned. Financial terms were not disclosed.
A-Major Media is led by Mary Lee, a 15-year industry veteran who was most recently head of film at Justin Lin’s Perfect Storm Entertainment, where she oversaw such upcoming projects as Warner Bros.’ Space Jam 2, Legendary’s Hot Wheels, Paramount’s Lone Wolf and Cub and the upcoming adaptation of Steve James’ Oscar-nominated documentary Abacus.
The Valence deal, made in association with UTA, is non-exclusive, meaning that A-Major is free to pursue partnerships with various production companies, not just Valence’s MRC divisions, and has its own development fund. (Valence is the parent company of THR.)
“[A-Major] is built in a way where I have development financing and can partner with people and get projects to a certain place, versus having to depend on someone to take them on [before I can] even do that,” Lee tells THR. “Knowing that it’s still tough [to make content from and about underrepresented groups], we didn’t want to put any additional limitations on what I can do. The fact that I can have flexibility and find the best creative home for each project was a lot of the reason why [I made this deal].”
A-Major is hitting the ground running with a number of projects in development that Lee says exemplifies the breadth of storytelling that exists within the Asian American community. In addition to a previously announced untitled feature set up at New Line and written by Elliott San and produced by John Cho, the new company has revealed three additional films:
• I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Yulin Kuang’s (CW Seed’s I Ship It) adaptation of Maurene Goo’s 2015 YA novel about a Korean-American girl who uses Korean drama techniques to woo the boy of her dreams. Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee (The Magnificent Seven) and BH Entertainment’s Charles Pak are producing.
• An untitled autobiographical project based on the high school experiences of Fresh Off the Boat co-executive producer Kourtney Kang, who is writing and making her feature directorial debut.
• We Stan, about female friends and fellow K-pop stans, penned by Atypical scribe Lauren Moon (who also is adapting 29 Dates for Disney+). A-Major will produce the comedy alongside Asian American music and media company 88rising and Korean American rapper and actor Jon “Dumbfoundead” Park.
A-Major also is in early development on an untitled television series produced by Gemma Chan and Franklin Leonard, among others.
Lee began her producing career as a creative executive on Juno, and reteamed with director Jason Reitman to co-produce Young Adult, as well as Rodrigo Garcia’s Anne Hathaway starrer Passengers and Will Speck and Josh Gordon’s comedy The Switch, starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. Before moving to Perfect Storm, she was a producer for Jake Johnson and Max Winkler’s 20th-based banner The Walcott Company.
“Looking back at my entire career, I think I’ve always tried in certain ways to champion Asian American stories or be involved with them, but it was just so much harder back then,” says Lee, citing the success of such films as 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians and Searching as paradigm shifters. “To actually build a company and be able to champion Asian and Asian American artists and stories is something I really didn’t think was possible until now.”
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