BREAKING: Thomas Tull’s Legendary East and China Film Co have not announced a slate yet, but the agreement is to jointly produce tentpole films for the global market for an initial three years. China Film Co is the largest producer and distributor of Chinese content and is majority owned by state-run China Film Group. The deal signed today in Beijing marks the first time the entity has signed a long-term, multi-picture production deal with a Chinese or international partner. The pics will be U.S.-China co-productions.
This is essentially a reboot of Legendary East in China under CEO Peter Loehr after a couple of trial runs in the complicated but coveted territory. China generated an estimated $2.7 billion in ticket sales in 2012, according to the MPAA, and recent efforts to court the market have come from major Hollywood hitters like Disney’s Iron Man 3, which co-produced there, and the upcoming Transformers 4. Said Loehr today in the release announcing the deal: “Partnering with China Film Co allows us to collaborate on projects from the earliest stages, and create true co-productions with unique worlds, elements and stories that universally speak to audiences”.
Among Legendary’s previous tip-toeing into the China market was The Great Wall, originally on track to shoot last year in China and New Zealand. It’s understood that the project, which saw director Ed Zwick depart last fall from a cast that had assembled Henry Cavill and Benjaman Walker, is not part of the new Legendary East-China Film Co slate and remains in development.
Today’s deal was negotiated by Zhao Haicheng, Mao Xiaotian, Kang Xiaoze and Deng Meng on behalf of China Film Co. and Legendary East CEO Peter Loehr, and Legendary Entertainment and Legendary East General Counsel Martin Willhite on behalf of Legendary East.
“There can be no doubt that this is one of the most important collaborations for CFGC in the coming years”, said Han Sanping, Chairman of China Film Co. “We believe that through strong collaboration between CFGC and Legendary East, we will be able to make films that are more appealing to filmgoers, creating new genres that, through the magic of film, bring greater variety to audiences around the world.”