Jeff Robinov Eyes Creating Film Company With Chinese Conglomerate

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Jeff Robinov

The former Warner Bros. head could team with Huayi Brothers to produce around five films a year.

Former Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov is negotiating to create a company that would produce roughly five movies annually, largely with money from Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media, people familiar with the plan said Wednesday.

Huayi Brothers, a publicly traded film production and record label founded 20 years ago by brothers Wang Zhongjun and Wang Zhonglei, is in discussions with other financiers who would also bankroll Robinov, whose films would likely be distributed by Sony.

Insiders say a deal for as much as $300 million from a variety of sources -- some from investors in the U.S. and some from investors abroad -- could come within the next few weeks.

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The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Sony declined to comment.

Huayi Brothers has been seeking a Hollywood partner for a few years, and almost struck a deal with Legendary Pictures in 2012, insiders have said. Other Chinese companies also have sought inroads to Hollywood, the Journal noted Wednesday, including Bison Capital Holdings, which this week invested in the Resolution talent agency and Wanda Corp., which acquired the AMC Entertainment movie exhibition company for $2.75 billion two years ago.

As for Robinov, he has explored several options since leaving Warner Bros. last year, including teaming with Russia-born billionaire Len Blavatnik or with producer Graham King, whose credits include The Town, The Departed and Argo.

Sony Pictures, meanwhile, has been slashing costs and focusing more attention on television in order to reduce the risk of movies in the wake of money losers like White House Down and After Earth, and some observers figure a fresh pipeline of films from Robinov could be a nice fit within the new structure.