Expendables 3 co-financier, Le Vision Pictures, is set to be the latest Chinese film company to set up shop Stateside with an LA-based operation. It will look to launch with a $200M fund geared towards making tentpoles for the global marketplace. While skepticism in Hollywood may be high over the glut of Chinese investment in the business without much tangible progress so far — witness the fallout over Jeff Berg’s just-shuttered Resolution Talent Agency following claims Chinese investor Bison reneged on its financial commitments — Le Vision does have the benefit of a deep-pocketed parent in LeTV, one of China’s top three online video platforms. In August, LeTV announced plans to raise $430M through a round of share issues to aid its expansion across a range of innovative online and finance products. That round valued LeTV at over $6B. Le Vision Pictures, which ranked third in overall box office in China in 2013, is LeTV’s film distribution and production arm.
The new company, which currently has five employees working out of its LA offices, will be fully up and running early next year and will focus entirely on $100M+ English-language blockbuster fare inspired somehow by Chinese culture and philosophy. Execs, headed by CEO Zhang Zhao, are drawing half of the $200M for the new entity from private sources in China, with the remainder coming from global investors. Le Vision US will likely finance up to 30% of any given budget, against distribution rights for China and South East Asia, with the rest coming from pre-sales and other partners. Company execs are keeping an open mind about whether to team with a single studio on global distribution or patch together a mosaic of independent distributors. Candidates are being eyed to run the LA office with an announcement expected by the end of the year.
Le Vision’s Stateside launch comes in the wake of Huayi Bros launching a $130M U.S. subsidiary to invest in film and TV production, distribution and marketing, while Chinese investment company Fosun International also backed Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 with a sizeable equity stake.
Le Vision is currently on track to earn a 10% market share of the Chinese box office in 2014, with annual theatrical revenues topping $500M. The company most recently co-financed Nu Image’s The Expendables 3 and Antonio Banderas sci-fi pic Automata directed by Gabe Ibanez, which world premiered at the just-wrapped San Sebastian film festival.
In addition to Le Vision’s global ambitions, the company is co-financing and distributing more than a dozen local language Chinese pics in 2014.