Citing the explosive growth of Chinese giant Alibaba, Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang predicted great things from former Warner Bros. film chief Jeff Robinov‘s Studio 8 at a press briefing with top Sony Pictures brass and Robinov at the Sony lot Tuesday evening.
Referring to Alibaba, Guo said, “In 10 years you will see another very successful company. What’s that? That’s Studio 8.”
CEO of Sony Inc. Michael Lynton said he envisions the studio releasing as many as 18 to 22 movies a year. Given the expanded number of labels at the studio with the addition of former Fox studio chief Tom Rothman, who is running the revived Tri-Star, and Robinov’s new company, Lynton said he is confident Sony will manage the task of finding release dates for all its product without conflict. “Everybody’s very respectful of one another,” he said. “You can always find the right date for the right movie.”
Robinov also promised, “We will never be bidding against each other. It will be a very collaborative spirit.”
Guo said he met Robinov three months ago and it was “love at first sight.” Speaking through a translator, he added, “I just realized that all the movies he produced are all my favorite movies. I also see the true spirit of the entrepreneur in him.” Specifically, Guo cited Christopher Nolan‘s Inception as his favorite film, though he noted, “It’s really hard to understand.”
He said Fosun is not looking to make further investments in U.S. studios.
While Fosun promised patience in allowing Robinov to get his company up to speed, the former Warner executive said he will have an announcement about his first project within a few weeks. Some sources believe he may unveil a film from Nolan.
Generally, Robinov said he is looking to make the types of broadly commercial and “visually unique” films he made at Warner Bros., which included Ben Affleck‘s Argo and Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity. Anticipating a staff of about 15, his company will have green-light authority but rely on Sony for marketing and distribution. Within three years, he hopes to be releasing as many as six movies annually.
Robinov said he will make films of varying budgets from $45 million to north of $100 million, looking “opportunistically” for projects that could be Chinese co-productions or otherwise “take advantage of Fosun’s relationships in China.”
Robinov acknowledged he has been taking Chinese lessons.
The session preceded to a party on the lot to welcome Robinov’s new company to Sony.