With the Chinese government’s relaxation of its film quota system and a theatrical market that’s projected to hit $5 billion by 2015, the Santa Anas are increasingly blowing east. Today, The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment announced that Iron Man 3 will be co-produced in China. This follows last week’s news that Disney is partnering with the culture ministry and Chinese Internet giant Tencent to develop the mainland’s animation business. The Mouse has long been active in China and the Iron Man plan highlights the growing cross-flow between the two countries. The Shane Black-directed Iron Man 3 is the 3rd big franchise picture to shoot in China in recent memory. (Paramount’s Mission: Impossible III shot there in 2005 and Universal’s The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor was there in 2007.) DMG, a co-producer on Rian Johnson’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Bruce Willis starrer Looper, will manage the Chinese location production of Iron Man 3 with shooting expected there in late summer this year. Disney has a May 3, 2013 release date set for the US.

Shanghai/ Beijing and Los Angeles, CA – The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment today announced the intention to co-produce IRON MAN 3 in China. Under the arrangement, DMG Entertainment will make an investment in the production of IRON MAN 3, manage the Chinese co-production process, and jointly produce the film in China. The Chinese portion of IRON MAN 3’s production will run through DMG Entertainment in coordination with Marvel Studios’ production and creative teams. DMG will also distribute IRON MAN 3 in China in collaboration with The Walt Disney Company China.

IRON MAN 3 will be the third movie in the billion-dollar plus franchise from Marvel and stars a returning cast including Robert Downey Jr. (as billionaire inventor Tony Stark) Gwyneth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) and Don Cheadle (as James “Rhodey” Rhodes). IRON MAN 3 is produced by Kevin Feige and executive produced by Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Louis D’Esposito, Charles Newirth, Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard and Dan Mintz. The film is being directed by Shane Black who is working on the script with Drew Pearce. The film releases in the United States on May 3, 2013, and is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in all territories worldwide other than in China (which is being distributed by DMG Entertainment) and Germany/Austria (which is being distributed by the Tele München Group).

“The popularity of the Marvel franchise globally creates a huge opportunity to deliver fans yet another action packed film,” said Stanley Cheung, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China. “The co-production of IRON MAN 3 in China is testimony to the importance of this audience to Disney and the local industry capability to deliver a blockbuster title,” he added.

“We look forward to working alongside DMG to bring IRON MAN to the Chinese marketplace in a significant way. We are confident that Marvel’s stories will continue to be enjoyed by Chinese audiences, and adding a local flavor, and working with our new local partner, will enhance the appeal and relevance of our characters in China’s fast-growing film marketplace” said Rob Steffens, General Manager of Operations and Finance for Marvel Studios

“Our collaboration with Disney and Marvel marks a milestone in the global entertainment landscape, as this signifies the first multi-billion dollar franchise to be produced between Hollywood and China,” said Dan Mintz, CEO of DMG Entertainment. “The IRON MAN franchise has been a major success worldwide, and we look forward to pushing the series to new heights with IRON MAN 3. The movie will further build upon its compelling storyline, and feature the hottest A-list stars, and spectacular action, which will resonate well both globally and in China, the second largest box office market in the world.”

The first installment of IRON MAN lifted off with high-speed, high-flying action when jet-setting industrialist Tony Stark survives an unexpected attack and escapes by building a high-tech robotic suit of armor. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man. Straight from the pages of the legendary comic book, Iron Man is a hero who is built—not born—to be unlike any other and made US$581 million at the global box office when released in 2008. Based on Marvel’s iconic Super Hero, IRON MAN 2 continued the story of the 2008 summer box office blockbuster IRON MAN, and made US$624 million at the global box office when released in 2010 Now, IRON MAN 3 continues the story with a new chapter that will deliver more heart-pounding action than ever before. Marvel Studios’ IRON MAN 3 will find Tony Stark with his back against the wall, facing his most fearsome foes yet.

Shooting is expected to commence in May in the United States and begin location filming in China in late summer 2012.

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