James Schamus, the longtime head of Focus Features, has set his production company Symbolic Exchange in a first-look and strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese start-up Meridian Entertainment. The agreement will provide development and production funding for Symbolic’s English-language slate, while also providing for co-development of Chinese projects. Schamus will also serve as a chief creative and strategic adviser to Meridian as it seeks to widen its investments outside China. Meridian’s Jennifer Dong and Schamus announced the deal.

“This is a perfect start for Meridian Entertainment,” Dong said. “While we continue to build our portfolio in China, the world’s fastest-growing film market, we know that the foundation to success is still great films by great filmmakers, working globally across cultures, and this is precisely the track record that James brings to our venture.”

Said Schamus: “There’s nothing more exciting in this business than being able to work with people as they build something new from the ground up. Jennifer and Meridian’s ambitions are paired with an independent spirit that will allow us to work on a broad array of projects together, in the U.S., in China, and around the world.”

Avy Eschenasy of Eschenasy Consulting negotiated on behalf of Symbolic in the deal. Figo Li coordinated the negotiation process.