Three years ago CEO Milt Barlow co-founded China Lion Film Distribution and struck an exclusive two-year deal with AMC Theaters to bring Chinese hits to U.S. and Canadian audiences. Today Barlow announced he is departing China Lion as the specialty distributor undergoes a “restructure and regroup”. During Barlow’s tenure, China Lion gave stateside bows to Chinese pics including Aftershock, If You Are The One 2, What Woman Want, Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy, and Vulgaria. Prior to establishing China Lion with Jiang Yanming, Barlow brought Chinese films to international audiences through the New Zealand-based Incubate and served as President and CEO of Village Roadshow Entertainment in Australia. Here’s the release via Incubate, where Barlow continues as CEO:
China Lion was launched in early 2010 by Barlow and founding partner, Beijing based, Jiang Yanming. In January 2012 leading Chinese film companies BONA and Huayi Brothers also took a stake in the company. Barlow remains as the second biggest shareholder after Yanming. The company is chaired by industry leader Greg Coote.
In 2008 Barlow ,through his New Zealand based company Incubate, pioneered the reintroduction of mainstream Chinese movies with day and date theatrical releases in Australia and New Zealand and to date has been instrumental in bringing over 50 Chinese movies to western and Chinese audiences in North America , Australia , New Zealand and the UK. China Lion commenced its North American operations in January 2011 and has released such Chinese classics as ‘Aftershock’ , ‘If You Are The One 2’, ‘What Woman Want’, ‘The Viral Factor’, ‘Love in The Buff’, ‘Love’, ‘Vulgaria’, ‘The Bullet Vanishes’ and ‘A Simple Life’ as well as representing Fox International Pictures North American releases of ‘Butcher Chef & Swordsman’ and ‘Love in Space’. The latest China Lion release was the new Feng Xioagang picture ‘Back to 1942’.
During his tenure, Barlow was responsible for negotiating a 2 year exclusive deal with AMC Theatres, ancillary deals with New Video and WellGo and the recently announced China Lion channel on ‘Hulu’.
In announcing his departure Barlow said: “I leave China Lion having laid what I hope are terrific foundations for the future. In our first year of operation, our Box Office was greater than all Chinese films released theatrically in North America in the previous 10 years and 2012 saw our Box Office up 100% over 2011. I am proud to have been given the opportunity to pioneer the reintroduction of Chinese cinema into Western countries since 2008 and I see a bright and growing future not only for Chinese Cinema but all Asian Cinema in the West. Our Board has decided to restructure and regroup for its next phase of growth in North America. I have a number of other initiatives that I wish to pursue with Asian entertainment in North America and beyond and we have amicably agreed that it is time for a change”.
China Lions’ President, and fellow founding shareholder with Barlow, Jiang Yanming, will assume senior management of China Lion supported by Senior VP Robert Lundberg who will run day to day operations.