Paramount Strikes $1 Billion Deal With Shanghai Film Group, Huahua Media

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Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey

The co-financing slate deal extends for three years.

Paramount Pictures has closed a three-year deal valued at $1 billion with the Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media to co-finance the studio’s full slate of films, it was announced Thursday. Under the terms of the deal, Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media will finance at least 25 percent of each film on the studio's slate, and it also includes an option for a fourth year.

The agreement was announced by Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey, Shanghai Film Group chairman Ren Zhonglun and Huahua Media chairman Wang Kefei.

The deal, which was finalized in Shanghai in November, covers several of the films released during fourth-quarter 2016 that Paramount produced, beginning with October's Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, as well as upcoming films like XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, which bows Friday.

Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media will open and jointly maintain an office on the Paramount lot starting later this year, and the new partners said they also are looking to explore the possibilities of co-productions in the future. 

Paramount previously partnered with Huahua Media on such films as Transformers: Age of Extinction, Star Trek Beyond and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

In announcing the new deal, Grey said, “Shanghai Film Group’s long and successful history as a prolific studio, coupled with Huahua’s strong track record in the Chinese market and its growing reach globally, make this a natural and powerful move for Paramount. We look forward to working with these two highly respected entertainment industry leaders, Chairman Ren and Chairman Wang, and their entire organizations in the years ahead.” 

The agreement represents Grey's first major move since Philippe Dauman was forced to exit as president and CEO of Viacom, Paramount's parent company, in August. Dauman had advocated selling 49 percent of Paramount to the Dalian Wanda Group, but Shari Redstone, who now serves as vice chairman of the Viacom board, opposed selling such a large stake in the company.

Grey is expected to use the new source of financing that the studio will be receiving from Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media to produce a slate of 15 to 17 releases per year as Paramount, which ranked sixth in terms of studio domestic box-office market share last year, looks to rebuild.