AFM: China's Bona Invests $235 Million in Fox Film Slate

Yu Dong - P 2012
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Yu Dong - P 2012

The deal gives the Chinese studio a stake in six live-action tentpoles from Fox, including 'The Martian,' which opens in China later this month.

Chinese movie studio Bona Film Group announced late on Wednesday that it has invested $235 million in The Seelig Group (TSG Entertainment Finance), the financier behind a slate of Hollywood tentpoles from 20th Century Fox.

The deal effectively allows Bona to invest in Fox's live-action movie slate, through TSG, and to participate in the profits. Via the arrangement, Bona has acquired a stake in 20th Century Fox's The Martian and five additional live-action tentpole releases from Fox.

"China is a critical market to our long-term economic success," said TSG head Chip Seelig, formerly of Dune Entertainment. "We are excited about our venture with Bona."

"We are pleased with the opportunity to add such a high-quality Chinese partner to the TSG Entertainment financing activities," added Bob Seelig, a TSG founding partner.

The Martian is due out in China on Nov. 25, and is expected to do big business there thanks to pro-Chinese story elements and the local audience's love of space movies and sci-fi.

Other forthcoming Fox titles likely to be included under the deal include X-Men: Apocalypse, War of the Planet of the Apes, Independence Day: Resurgence and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children from Tim Burton.

"Our international strategy has played an important role in our overall business plan and this partnership with TSG Entertainment underscores Bona's growing impact and brand awareness in the international film industry," said Bona's founder, chairman and CEO Yu Dong. "We look forward to participating in more mainstream Hollywood productions and bringing high-quality foreign films to the domestic market."

Although now an investor, Bona gets no China distribution rights under the deal, and Fox titles will continue to be treated as imports by China, with all the regulatory complications that status entails.

The partnership was developed by Pacific Media Group and negotiated by Jeffrey Chan, COO of Bona, with Chip Seelig of TSG.

Bona and TSG announced the agreement at a party in Santa Monica on Wednesday night at the American Film Market.