IM Global Launches Film Festival Services Firm Targeting China

China's Buying Spree Takes Novel Turn in IM Global Deals - H 2016
Courtesy of Tang Media Partners LLC.; Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

The new business, Go Global, will help Chinese filmmakers tap into the international festival circuit while also providing access to the Chinese market via the country's growing domestic festival scene.

International film and television studio IM Global is launching a new venture designed to help Chinese movie producers and financiers gain more international exposure for their projects at film festivals around the world.

Named Go Global, the business will be run by IM Global's Beijing and Shanghai-based China subsidiary. The venture also will shop its services from the opposite side of China's borders, offering representation to international filmmakers who would like to gain a foothold in the fast-growing Chinese market by participating in the country's expanding domestic film festival circuit.

Go Global will be led by industry veteran Clément Magar, based in Beijing. It will provide Chinese producers, financiers and talent with a wide range of services, spanning festival strategy, festival booking, festival media promotion and event production. The operation will leverage the IM Global parent company's extensive international film distribution experience and global contacts, the company said.

"It's a relatively young industry in China and there isn't a deep reservoir of international experience," said IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford about the market demand that motivated the new initiative. "Meanwhile, as the entertainment players there become more globally ambitious, their need to have a profile at the major festivals is growing quickly."

Go Global adds to IM Global's expanding strategic engagement with the surging Chinese film sector. The company launched its Beijing office in 2013 and it has partnered on the international distribution of some of China's biggest box-office hits, including The Mermaid, Mojin: The Lost Legend, Mr. Six and Breakup Buddies.

In June, majority ownership of IM Global was acquired by Los Angeles and Shanghai-based Tang Media Partners, whose backers include a powerful array of Chinese investors and strategic partners, such as Chinese tech giant Tencent, China Media Capital and veteran local film studio Huayi Brothers. As part of the deal, IM Global and TMP also partnered with Tencent on the establishment of a new television production and distribution joint venture, which operates under the IM Global Television banner. TMP was founded in 2015 by former Bear Stearns Asia chairman and CEO Donald Tang, a veteran dealmaker who has ambitions for the company to become a major operator in global entertainment.

On why U.S. and European producers might want to tap Go Global to dive into the Chinese festival scene, Ford said: "It's still a very hard marketplace to penetrate for 95 percent of films made internationally. Like anywhere else in the world, having a local festival strategy is a good way to build awareness and prove audience appetite. There are literally dozens of substantial film festivals across China each year and, led by Clement, Go Global's local team has the know-how to build a China strategy and execute on it in a very user-friendly style for international films."

Go Global will kick off its activities at the Venice International Film Festival, which begins Aug. 31. The company will be the official sponsor of Bridging the Dragon, the established industry event which was designed to foster collaboration between the Chinese and European film communities. The company also will serve as the press agent for director Cristiano Bortone's Coffee, the first official China-Italy co-production, which has been selected to premiere in the festival's Venice Days section.