Chinese TV Company Huace Pacts With Teen Hero Guo Jingming

Tiny Times H

The director of the wildly popular "Tiny Times" film series signs a five-year $30 million deal with the company.

Shanghai-based TV company Huace TV has scored a major coup by pacting with Guo Jingming, creator of the teen smash Tiny Times who is currently the most sought-after name in the Chinese film business.

The $30 million five-year deal covers the production of films and TV series.

The agreement involves Huace paying $29.5 million for a 26 percent stake in Guo's company, Shanghai Zui Culture Development, which will lead to Huace and Zui jointly producing five feature films.

The goal is for the two parties to renew their cooperation plan every five years. Huace is also looking for Hollywood studios to bring in top-level production talent for the production of one planned feature

"In the future, the movie industry will be the world of the young, and I am the representative of the new generation of young people in terms of their movie dreams," said Guo, who has an enormous following among young people for his novels and his films, although he is not loved by the critics. "This cooperation will allow me to bring what I love to the next generation."

Huace produces about 10 percent of China's TV dramas right now, but the deal transforms Huace into an A-lister among production houses as Guo is a hot commodity right now.

The model behind the deal seems similar to Huayi Brothers and its links to China's most popular director, Feng Xiaogang.

"Huace Film & TV will soon grow into one of the movie giants in China, and we will work together to come up with the most attractive stories for Chinese audiences," Guo also said at a news conference in Shanghai.

Earlier this week, Guo said the third installment of Tiny Times would start shooting this month for a release next year, a relatively slow schedule for him, given he released the first two Tiny Times this year.

"The future is yours, but it's also ours," said Zhao Yifang, Huace general manager. "A shift of the focus from creators to audiences is a vital characteristic of the 'new generation' of filmmakers."

The deal is not confined to movies, and Huace is keen to leverage Guo's success as a novelist into movie and TV properties.

"The movie and TV drama mode adopted by Huace Film & TV, which is audience-oriented and based on the content of movies and TV series, may bring innovation to the whole film and TV industry in China," said Zhao.

The two companies have made plans for a trilogy of movies and TV dramas, as well as a Zui Script Origination Center and a new director development plan.

"Currently, appealing and teenager-oriented movie series are scarce in China’s movie market," Zhao said. "Franchises have a higher commercial value than a single movie due to the extension of their brand effects."

In addition to the third and fourth installments of Tiny Times, she said the joint venture would shoot The City of Fantasy, a youth fantasy epic, which will be directed by Guo.

Huace is looking for contacts with top-level movie studios in Hollywood to bring in top-level production teams from Los Angeles for the production of The City of Fantasy. The goal is for the two parties to renew their cooperation plan every five years.