China-based movie company East Light Film Co. has founded and bankrolled new Los Angeles-based indie film finance and production outfit Cristal Pictures, whose principals Chris Liu and Scott Einbinder just co-financed and co-produced the upcoming Ryan Reynolds pic Hitman’s Bodyguard. Liu and Einbinder will be co-CEOs and the plan is to finance and produce mid-to-high-budget English-language motion pictures for global theatrical distribution. It will also have access to China’s booming exhibition market either via China co-productions or stand-alone entities.
Liu is the founder of East Light, which has additionally raised equity from several China- Hong Kong- and South East Asian-based investors. The company’s core businesses include film financing, production, distribution, marketing and talent management. It’s producing credits in China include Almost Perfect, Mysterious Island and the 2012 horror pic Derrier Les Murs.
Liu recently teamed with Einbinder to build out a slate including Hitman’s Bodyguard, which is in postproudction. Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek co-star. The film is financed by Millennium Films with Lionsgate set to release in North America wide on August 16, 2017; Cristal retains Chinese distribution rights and plans to release in China through East Light day-and-date.
Einbinder, Cristal’s president, has been running day-to-day operations as the company is building its slate. More staffing is coming, but China film veteran Dongbing Shan has come aboard as a senior advisor.
“East Light is unique in its foray into the U.S. film business,” Liu said. “We believe we differ from companies that have already entered the U.S. marketplace with a solid capital base like Wanda, DMG, Tencent, Perfect World or Alibaba in that we are first and foremost a film production company with a proven track record in China, dedicated to financing and producing, promoting and distributing motion pictures. We are not a tech company, a fund, or an advertising agency investing our resources in film productions. As such we are committed to backing Cristal Pictures as a wholly independent American financing and production company to increase our growing filmmaking interests and build a presence in the U.S. market.”
Adds Einbinder: “Genres that prove successful in China routinely mirror worldwide successes, notably fantasy, action, thrillers, disaster and science fiction. These genres exemplify Cristal’s finance and production goals.”