Filmart: IM Global Inks Output Deal With Chinese Studio Enlight Pictures

China Power list: Wang Changtian -Getty-P 2016
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Stuart Ford's veteran film financing and distribution venture will handle worldwide sales on at least six titles from the Beijing studio's slate.

Stuart Ford's IM Global is extending its relationship with leading Chinese film studio Enlight Pictures.

The veteran Los Angeles-based film sales, financing and production outfit has reached an agreement to handle worldwide sales, outside of China, on at least six titles from the Beijing studio's slate. The partnership will kick off at Filmart, the upcoming film industry event in Hong Kong, which begins Monday.  

"We've really enjoyed working with our partners at Enlight on previous projects together, and we're delighted to be extending the relationship into a multiple-picture arrangement," said IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford in a statement. "This deal also emphasizes our commitment to building a global audience for the best of Chinese cinema."

Enlight, headed by Wang Changtian, was China's second-largest studio by box-office revenue last year. The company has put out a string of hits, including Stephen Chow's $553 million monster The Mermaid and the box-office-topping Lost In franchise, which spans three movies. 

Among the Enlight projects shopped to buyers at Filmart will be Alec Su’s (The Left Ear) The Devotion of Suspect X. Starring Wang Kai and Ruby Lin, the film is a thriller based on an award-winning and critically acclaimed Japanese novel by Keigo Higashino. The film will be released in China on March 31. China Lion already holds North American, U.K., Australian and New Zealand rights.

Other anticipated titles on Enlight's slate are Yi-chi Lien’s romance All About Secrets, Dong Chengpeng’s (Pancake Man aka Jian Bing Man) comedy/drama City of Rock, and Han Yan’s (Go Away Mr. Tumor) action/thriller Animal World.

IM Global has been building its ties to the growing Chinese film industry since opening a Beijing office in 2013. Past partnerships with Enlight include handling international sales on the studio's recent Chinese New Year hit Buddies In India, which grossed $108 million in China; Mojin: The Lost Legend, which earned over $300 million, and was produced by Enlight along with Wanda and Huayi Brothers; and Zhang Yibai’s I Belonged to You, which grossed over $100 million in China; among others.

The deal was negotiated by Leslie Chen, senior vp sales and acquisitions, Asia, on behalf of IM Global and by Enlight Pictures' international sales and distribution manager Heidi Sun.

Last June, Shanghai and Los Angeles-based Tang Media Partners, founded by banker turned media entrepreneur Donald Tang, acquired a controlling ownership position in IM Global. TMP has a powerful array of Chinese backers — including investment firm China Media Capital, film studio Huayi Brothers and internet giant Tencent — and the takeover was expected to help IM Global expand both in the growing Chinese market and globally.