In what it’s touting as the first fund dedicated exclusively to film and television in China, Bona Film Group has launched a 1B Renminbi fund ($163.4M) to develop and produce projects over the next two years. The fund is managed by Wuhu Bona Film Investment Management Limited, a newly formed company whose shareholders include Bona, Sequoia Capital and Gopher Asset Management. Bona chairman and CEO Yu Dong said investor reaction had been enthusiastic and led to an oversubscription. Last year, News Corp took a 19.9 % stake in Bona. Fox International Productions later sealed a multi-picture co-producing pact for Chinese-language films. The companies’ first project together, Moscow Mission — about a series of robberies on a train line between Beijing and Moscow — will be financed by the fund. Bona also has co-production agreements with Universal and Working Title. Where applicable, the company says it will distribute all films in which the fund invests, both domestically and internationally. One of China’s leading non state-owned film companies, it’s eyeing an even bigger piece of the pie. Yu recently told Bloomberg, “If Bona is able to control 7% to 10% of the market going forward, we’re in position to become one of the biggest film companies in the world.” The Chinese box office is expected to outpace the U.S. by 2020 as screens go up at a breakneck pace. And, this year has seen the fortunes of homegrown films increase. In the first half of 2013, ticket sales for Chinese movies skyrocketed to $1.1B, a 144% jump on last year.
Global Showbiz Briefs: New BBC Chief Takes Reins, HBO & Canal Plus, China’s TV Docu Market, Bona Film Group
New BBC Chief Says “Best Days Lie Ahead”
Today was the first day on the job for the BBC’s new director general, Tony Hall. The broadcaster’s former head of news returned to the Beeb after more than a decade as CEO of the Royal Opera House. The organization he confronted today is in far different shape than it was when he left. After going into crisis mode last October when the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal broke open, the BBC was rocked by the mishandling of a Newsnight report that mistakenly identified a senior politician as an alleged pedophile. Those events led to the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor, left in September to become CEO of The New York Times Company and under his watch austerity measures were put in place after the license fee that was frozen until 2017. Two major unions went out on strike at the BBC last Thursday in protest over what was referred to as “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” along with bullying claims at the company. Hall made a handful of appointments prior to starting at the BBC, but has yet to name a head of news or head of television. In an email to staff today, he said, “With imagination and hard work, the BBC’s best days lie ahead of us.”
China Theaters Offered Rebates To Boost Local Film Market Share
Worried about competition from U.S. and other foreign titles, China’s movie industry regulators have created financial incentives for any theater chain that takes in at least 50% of its annual box-office revenue from Chinese films. Tian Jin, deputy director of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, complained recently that the market share of Chinese films in China had dropped to 41.4%. The incentive will be in the form of a rebate of the fees — 5% of all ticket sales — that theater owners pay to the National Film Development Funds Management Committee. If half of a theater owner’s revenue comes from domestic films, the entire fee is refunded. If 45% of sales come from Chinese films, 80% of the fee is returned. If the percentage falls below 45% but exceeds the domestic market share in the previous year, the rebate is 50% of the fee.
Back in May, News Corp announced a strategic investment in China’s Bona Film Group which gave it a 19.9% stake in the distributor. That deal did not include a production component, but today, Bona and News Corp.’s Fox International Productions have announced a multi-picture co-producing pact for Chinese-language films. FIP has already produced local-language pictures in China — and is very active in other international territories including Russia, Germany, Spain, Korea and India. Here’s the press release on today’s deal, which gives Fox deeper reach in a booming market:
FOX INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS (FIP), a division of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, and BONA FILM GROUP LTD. (Nasdaq:BONA), one of China’s largest motion picture producers and distributors, today announced a multi-picture deal in which the two companies will together produce Chinese language films.
Under the agreement, the two companies will develop, produce and distribute films throughout China.
“This is a significant step in what we believe will be a long-term, multi-faceted collaboration with News Corp. and its subsidiary companies,” said Mr. Dong Yu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Bona Film Group Limited. “The films released under this partnership will combine Bona’s deep understanding of production, distribution and audience preferences in China with FIP’s international expertise to create movies that satisfy audiences’ growing demand for blockbuster characteristics. We look forward to the cooperation and anticipated opportunities with FIP.”
The Chinese distributor that recently secured a strategic investment from News Corp said it is in discussions with Universal, Sony, Paramount and News Corp’s Fox about co-producing movies for global distribution. Bona CEO Dong Yu told the Wall Street …
BEIJING, May 13, 2012 — Bona Film Group Limited (Nasdaq:BONA), a leading film distributor and vertically integrated film company in China, today announced that the Company has secured a strategic investment from News Corporation.
Under the investment agreement, News Corporation will acquire a 19.9% equity stake in Bona directly from the Company’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, Mr. Dong Yu. Mr. Yu has entered into separate agreements to acquire 1,000,000 Bona ordinary shares from SIG China Investments One, Ltd., 1,000,000 Bona ordinary shares from Matrix Partners China Funds and 1,500,000 Bona ordinary shares from the Sequoia Funds, at an average price of $11.40 per share, or $5.70 per American Depositary Share.
“We are thrilled to receive this strategic investment from News Corporation,” said Dong Yu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Bona Film Group Limited. “As one of the leading film distributors in China, we are committed to bringing the best quality Chinese films to broad audiences around the world. News Corporation’s extensive global reach, investment and distribution will help accelerate our strategy to expand our global footprint.