Why Hollywood and China Are Strengthening Ties

Bennett Pozil-Publicity-P 2016
Courtesy of Winston Baker

Bennett Pozil, executive vp and head of corporate banking at East West Bank, says the incentive for collaboration has never been stronger. Here's why.

The incentive for Hollywood and Chinese film studios to collaborate never has been stronger, says Bennett Pozil, executive vp and head of corporate banking at East West Bank, a Pasadena-based institution that helped facilitate Beijing-based Perfect World Pictures' $250 million investment in a slate of Universal movies and Chinese studio Huayi Brothers' 2015 pact to produce at least 18 films with Robert Simonds' STX Entertainment. "From China, a lot of the companies want to better understand how to distribute pictures internationally," says Pozil. "This is something the [U.S.] studios are excellent at."

As for the studios, Beijing relationships aren't only about securing market access. "Now it's also very much about co-investment in local production," says Pozil, noting that the Chinese cinema market is on pace to surpass North America as the world's largest box office in 2017.

On June 13, Pozil and other influential cross-border dealmakers — including Perfect World president Rong Chen and Lindsay Conner, co-chair of Manatt's entertainment and media practice — will join Winston Baker's fourth annual Film Finance Forum China in Shanghai. The executives will share how partnerships came together and discuss emerging distribution models, global talent management opportunities and derivatives channels.

"It took some time to get both sides to have a greater understanding of one another," says Pozil. "But once one or two deals happened, it created confidence. Now folks on both sides are saying, 'This is happening, and we need to be a part of it.' "

This story first appeared in the June 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.