Cristal Pictures Launches With Backing From China's East Light Film Company

Ryan Reynolds - Getty - H 2016
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The new venture is co-financing Millennium Films' 'Hitman's Bodyguard,' starring Ryan Reynolds.

Chris Liu of China’s East Light Film Company and producer Scott Einbinder have joined forces to form Cristal Pictures, a new Los Angeles-based motion picture finance and production company, the two officially announced Wednesday.

Cristal, which has been quietly developing and film projects since earlier this year, is co-financing and co-producing Millennium Films’ Hitman’s Bodyguard, an action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel Jackson, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek and directed by Patrick Hughes. Lionsgate will release the project, currently in postproduction, on Aug. 16. Cristal retains Chinese distribution rights and plans to release the pic in China through East Light day-and-date with its North America launch.

Cristal — with backing from East Light and Liu and Einbinder serving as co-CEOs — will focus on financing and producing mid- to high-budgeted English-language movies for domestic and global theatrical distribution.

East Light is a media company based in Beijing and Hong Kong. To support Cristal’s long-term business plan, East Light has raised what was described as “substantial equity” from several China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asian-based investors, the announcement said.

Cristal is planning to move into Los Angeles headquarters in the CNN Building on Sunset Boulevard and is expected to announce a head of development and production, as well as additional staffing, in the coming weeks.

Dongbing Shan, the Chinese film executive, has joined Cristal as a senior advisor.

“We are in the business to make theatrical, commercial motion pictures that appeal to both domestic and worldwide audiences, with a preference for strong stories and characters that will also resonate with Chinese moviegoers as well, considering, naturally, the ever-expanding Chinese marketplace which should surpass our own in the next year or so,” said Einbinder.

Cristal Pictures said it has the capacity to fully finance and produce its projects as official Chinese co-productions or as movies to be distributed in China through the import quota.

“East Light is unique in its foray into the U.S. film business,” Liu commented. “We are committed to backing Cristal Pictures as a wholly independent American financing and production company to increase our growing filmmaking interests and build a presence in the U.S. market.”