In its opening weekend in China, The Great Gatsby had a rather reasonable start, grossing US$4.42 million. Leading the box office over the weekend was Jurassic Park 3D at US$17 million (in its second weekend). Also in the piece: the success of American films in China despite limits, China's adjustment to a glitzy world in The Great Gatsby, and Baz Luhrmann's wish to film in China. [Brisbane Times]
Yang Yazhou's Feed Me won an Innovation Award at the Montréal World Film Festival. [Film Business Asia]
In a crackdown on independent filmmaking, Chinese authorities have disrupted an independent film school, shut down two film festivals, and harassed organizers of a third festival. "They just want us to make films about food, clothes, [and] entertainment," said Yang Lina, an independent documentary maker. [Epoch Times]
Stalingrad is the first Russian-made feature film to get wide release in China. From now on, at least one Russian film per year will see wide release in China. [RIA Novosti]
The Tiny Times franchise is exposing the generational divide in China. The New York Times takes a look at China's youth culture and its influence on the big screen. [The New York Times]
Hollywood animated releases face challenges in order to achieve box office success in China. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Paramount will cast four roles for Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers 4 via a Chinese reality show. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Zhang Yimou has plans for a costume drama as his next project. [China Daily]
BEIJING -- Bona Film Group Limited ("Bona" or the "Company") (Nasdaq:BONA), a leading film distributor and vertically integrated film company in China, today announced that it has launched Wuhu Bona Jinyu Film Investment Center (the "Fund"), an RMB 1.0 billion (approximately US$163.4 million) fund that will finance the development and production of Bona's film and TV projects over the next two years.
The fund is established and managed by Wuhu Bona Film Investment Management Limited, a newly formed limited liability company whose shareholders include Bona, Sequoia Capital Investment Advisory (Tianjin) LLC ("Sequoia") and Gopher Asset Management Co., Ltd. ("Gopher"), a division of Noah Holdings Limited (NYSE:NOAH). Bona holds an equity stake in the Fund of approximately 30%, representing the commitment of investment rights in current and future projects, with approximately 70% of the Fund owned by outside investors.
"We are extremely proud to be a part of the Fund, which is the first of its kind in the history of Chinese film and a significant milestone not only for Bona, but for our industry. Investor reaction to this concept during the fundraising process has been extremely positive, and resulted in the Fund not only meeting its target investment level, but a sizable oversubscription. The enthusiasm we have seen from seasoned investment professionals speaks to the value of the Bona name in the industry, as well as the strength of our film pipeline and our position as one of China's leading non state-owned film companies. We believe that there is a significant unmet demand for vehicles such as the Fund, which will allow investors to participate more directly in the growth of China's burgeoning film industry, and we plan to explore opportunities to further develop additional financing entities following the launch of the Fund," said Bona's founder, Chairman and CEO, Mr. Yu Dong.
"Chinese cinema is in the midst of a period of tremendous growth, with total box office revenues in the first half of 2013 increasing 35% over the same period of last year. With rapid growth in theaters nationwide as a result of the ongoing urbanization movement and increasing availability of disposable income associated with the rise of China's middle class, we believe that China is poised to build upon its recently attained status as the world's second largest film market in the coming years. This new fund will help Bona further expand its competitive advantages in film investment and production as we continue to strengthen our capabilities in the areas of distribution and exhibition."
Mr. Yu added, "The launch of this Fund is expected to provide substantial benefits for Bona, as it will greatly enhance our production capacity, enabling us to bring not only more, but higher quality film and television projects to audiences in China and abroad. It will significantly reduce the challenges and risks associated with individual project financing, allowing us to more effectively plan the timing of future releases and shorten the pre-production process, while maintaining creative control over our films and TV series and giving us the opportunity to meaningfully increase our production market share. Moreover, the investment and production financing provided by the Fund will enable us to devote our internal capital resources to the Company's other growth engines such as the expansion of our theater network and ongoing enhancement of our film distribution capabilities. We believe that the Chinese film industry is at a critical point in its evolution, and the benefits of participating in the Fund will help bring us closer to our goal of becoming China's largest non state-owned film producer, distributor and exhibitor while leading the continued advancement of the industry and creating incremental shareholder value."
Projects financed by the Fund are expected to include theatrical releases and television series, and will include both Bona-produced films as well as films developed through co-production agreements such as those previously announced with Fox International Productions, Universal Pictures and Working Title Films. Where applicable, Bona will distribute all films in which the Fund invests, domestically and internationally. Proceeds from the Fund will be distributed to investors based on their initial investment in the Fund, as well as the Fund's internal rate of return.
The Fund expects to provide financing for such highly anticipated films as Tracks in the Snowy Forest, The Third Master's Sword and Moscow Mission, the first project under Bona's previously announced co-production agreement with Fox International Productions.