U.S. shares of China’s Bona Film Group are up 7.7% this morning after the distributor announced two deals that help to consolidate ownership: Its founder and CEO, Yu Dong, agreed to pay $71.4M for the 19.3% stake owned by 21st Century Fox. Separately, Bona plans to sell a 13.3% interest to a Chinese investment group, Fosun Group, which already owns 7.5% of Bona. When the dust settles, the Bona chief will own about 32.3% and Fosun will have 20.8%. Fosun’s deal follows its agreement last month to invest in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8.
Fox (in its earlier incarnation as News Corp) bought its stake in Bona in May 2012 and later that year announced a multi-picture agreement to co-produce Chinese language films. The companies say today that Fox’s sale of its Bona stake “has no effect on the five film co-productions … or on the robust pipeline.” One of their co-productions, Bride Wars, began principal photography last month. It’s “the first of our five co-production projects with 21st Century Fox, and we are confident it will be a tremendous success, as it will appeal to the fast growing younger Chinese audience, one of the most important audience groups that we want to capture in today’s market,” Bona’s Yu says. Read More »
Fox just announced that it was the first studio to cross the billion dollar mark at the box office this year with a total tally of $1.015B, thanks to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pushing it past that threshold this weekend with what is expected to be a $73M to $74M three-day. The tally, according to the studio, does not including Fox Searchlight. It does include, however, one of the biggest hits of the summer (and the year) — X-Men: Days of Future Past which has grossed a total of $229M+ since opening May 23 with a $90M three-day weekend.
Also kicking it for the studio was The Fault in Our Stars which has grossed a whopping $119M+ and was the sleeper hit of the summer so far, and DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, which is at $152M+ after five weeks in release and is really a good family film. They also credit The Other Woman, the female-driven comedy that starred Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton which is currently at $82.7M. They have also had some of the best quality films out there this year. Um, the last picture of Fox’s summer isn’t one of those: It is Let’s Be Cops, a modestly-budgeted buddy comedy starring Damon Wayans and Jake Johnson about two sociopaths who impersonate cops. It’s not expected to do much business … Read More »
The Fox Group is bringing back the Fox Writers Intensive, the program for experienced writers with diverse backgrounds, ethnic minorities as well as LGBT, foreign-born and others, which debuted last year. The Fox network was the program’s main backer in its inaugural edition. This time around, the initiative is being expanded to other News Corp. divisions and will provide participants with opportunities in book development and publishing at HarperCollins, as well as the chance to apply on a first-look basis for the Fox Writers Studio, a yearlong think tank of salaried screenwriters working together to produce original feature films for 20th Century Fox Film. This year’s initiative will also feature development support from 20th Century Fox TV and FX, which, along with Fox Broadcasting Co., will purchase and develop the winning finalist’s original script. Read More »