EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures is already in bed with Alibaba on the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, and has now added another Chinese partner for the sci-fi film. Fast-growing Huahua Media is making its first global investment in a tentpole with Par and Skydance’s STB. The Chinese studio has a pre-existing relationship with Paramount, having collaborated on the marketing for Transformers: Age Of Extinction, TMNT, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Terminator Genisys and others.
Having a local partner in China is a boon for Hollywood and Paramount has increasingly been building its relationships there. It made Transformers: Age Of Extinction under a co-operation agreement with the vast territory. It also received an investment from Alibaba Pictures on last year’s Rogue Nation. The production arm of Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant is now also in STB and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows. The latter bows in the Middle Kingdom this weekend while Star Trek begins its rollout July 19. The China release date has not yet been confirmed, but if it follows a similar pattern to last year’s M:I5 and Terminator, it could slot in towards the end of the summer.
Beijing-based Huahua Media has been quickly amassing resources across marketing sectors and in VR, marketplaces, theaters, VOD, and outdoor amusements. It has also begun investing in IP with international production partners from the U.S., UK and France.
Paramount executives are in Barcelona this week at the CineEurope conference. At this afternoon’s showcase of its slate, the studio took a moment to reflect on Star Trek star Anton Yelchin, who died in an freak accident last weekend. Co-President of international marketing and distribution, Mark Viane, said, “We join the world in mourning” and offered thoughts to Yelchin’s family and friends. The studio also showed about 10 minutes of footage from the film that’s directed by Justin Lin and also stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Idris Elba and Sofia Boutella.