Shanghai: WME-IMG, Village Roadshow Launch Chinese Film Venture With Beijing's Perfect World

Lujiazui Financial District Shanghai Skyline - One Time Use Only - Getty - H 2017
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The new film and TV production company, named Perfect Village Entertainment, unveiled a debut slate in Shanghai Tuesday, including projects from Zhang Yimou and Jackie Chan.

WME-IMG and Village Roadshow Entertainment Group have partnered with Chinese entertainment company Perfect World Pictures to launch a new Beijing-based joint venture film and television production company.

The new entity, dubbed Perfect Village Entertainment, will produce filmed entertainment that "draws upon the combined IP and brand assets, content creation and distribution capabilities of the three companies," the partners said at an announcement event held during the Shanghai International Film Festival on Tuesday.

WME-IMG, which is joining the venture through its new China-based entity, WME-IMG China (a joint venture with Sequoia Capital China, Tencent, Fountain Vest Partners and Focus Media), will provide the label with "support across its network of brands and licensing relationships, as well as access to its global packaging, sales and distribution infrastructure," the agency said.

Perfect Village Entertainment will be based out of offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. The label's activities will comprise the development, financing, production, marketing and distribution of a slate of feature films, animation and online series. The company's output will be filmed mostly in the Chinese language for primary distribution in Greater China, as well as international markets around the world.

Hollywood and China industry veteran Ellen Eliasoph has been named Perfect Village’s president and CEO. Her staff and the Perfect Village team will be headquartered in Perfect World's central offices in Beijing's Chaoyang District. A Hollywood veteran's veteran in the China market, Eliasoph was the first Hollywood executive to be based in Beijing when she established Warner Bros.’ China office in 1993. She imported The Fugitive to China as the first U.S. revenue-sharing film. In recent years, she has served as CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, where she oversaw the company's expanding Chinese slate, which has included such hits as Stephen Chow's Journey to the West ($202 million in China in 2014). 

Perfect World made its first big splash in Hollywood with a $500 million slate investment at Universal Pictures in 2016. The company began — and its core business remains — in the gaming sector, where it is one of China's largest developers and distributors. In recent years, Perfect World has emerged as one of the country's leading TV producers, while also diversifying into film production and distribution, animation, cinema operation, online literature, education and other forms of digital media.

At the glitzy event in Shanghai Tuesday, Perfect Village also unveiled its debut film slate. It includes upcoming 2017 releases initially launched by Village Roadshow Asia, such as Jackie Chan's sci-fi action thriller Bleeding Steel and Reborn, a cyber-hacker thriller starring Chinese actors Han Geng and Rhydian Vaughan and featuring Japanese pop star Tomohisa Yamashita in his acting debut. Perfect Village’s first tentpole, targeting a release in 2018, will be Zhang Yimou's martial-arts epic Shadow, which is currently in its last month of shooting. It stars Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Guan Xiaotong and Wang Qianyuan.

The company also unveiled pre-production of a live-action/animated feature that will bring together two of the most beloved pet characters from East and West: Jim Davis's iconic bad cat Garfield and Hero Dog, the star character of one of Perfect World’s hit television shows.

Village Roadshow plans to leverage its history and relationships in Australia to the benefit of Perfect Village's output, utilizing Australia's unique locations and established VFX and post-production capabilities. Diplomats from the Australian consulate in China were in attendance at the event to support the venture. 

Said Jie Lian, chairman and CEO of Perfect World Pictures: “We believe that the Chinese film industry is on the brink of a new 'Golden Age' of growth in which great indigenous stories and IP will be brought to screens across all platforms, utilizing world-class production techniques and resonating with audiences both in China and around the world. Finding the right partners has been a critical element of our strategy for seizing the moment. As soon as we began brainstorming with Village Roadshow and WME-IMG about what we could do together, we realized that our collective content creation capabilities and vast global network of talent relationships and distribution platforms, along with the big-picture vision and great chemistry we all share, strongly positions us to capitalize on this tremendous opportunity.”

Greg Basser, CEO of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, added: “When we established Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia in 2011, we set our goals high and persevered in our belief in the Chinese marketplace with aspirations we would find partners who share our vision and values, and who are committed to building a business together for the long term. The formation of Perfect Village, in collaboration with these stellar partners, represents the fullest possible realization of our dream to build a localized film development and production operation in China creating world-class content for China and beyond.”

"Through the launch of Perfect Village, we're looking forward to growing our role in creating and selling content within China," noted Michael Ma, CEO of WME-IMG China. "There's a tremendous opportunity for our diverse talent and brand network to extend their reach through content tailored to Chinese audiences that we can package and sell using WME-IMG's global network."

The Raine Group, the U.S. investment bank, provided strategic advice to the partners in the establishment of Perfect Village.