Ryan Kavanaugh Resurfaces With China Film Production, Studio Deal

Ryan Kavanaugh - Getty - H 2018
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The executive, whose Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy in 2015, has formed a new joint venture.

Ryan Kavanaugh, who founded Relativity Media in 2004 and served as its CEO only to see it file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, has resurfaced in China.

Kavanaugh's new company Proxima Media on Wednesday unveiled a joint venture with National Arts Studio, a film studio and theme park in Foshan, China, with plans to make up to 10 commercial movies.

The parties' "collaboration agreement" calls for Proxima Media to become a major shareholder of National Arts Studio, while expanding the film studio to around eight soundstages and a postproduction facility approximately an hour outside of Hong Kong.

"This truly will be the start of a new era. Now we have both the right place, the right time, and the clear demand to create both a physical and virtual east-west content powerhouse," said Kavanaugh, the ex-Relativity Media head and now Proxima Media CEO, in a statement.

Proxima Media will also bring its IP in film and TV to the joint venture, with commercial movies to have budgets between $15 million and $80 million, according to a statement from the joint venture. The announcement did not disclose financial backers.

Up to now, National Arts Studio has done local Chinese movies like The Women Knight of Mirror Lake, The Legend Is Born – Ip Man and Ip Man: The Final Fight, in addition to domestic TV series, according to its website.

"We believe that by combining our resources we will shorten our learning curve and quickly bring our studio, parks hotels and related production facilities to the highest industry standards creating the largest and most global studio in existence today," National Arts Studio chairman Sin Kwok-lam said in his own statement.

The Foshan studio complex, which opened in 2015, already has panoramic buildings for movie backdrops and tourist destinations like a Kowloon walled city, a Chinese palace and Hong Kong and Shanghai streetscapes. Additional replica sets are planned by the joint venture, including a Venice canal, a Central Park skating rink, a Hawaiian beach with a surf and wave pool and Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.