UPDATED, 10:23 AM: Deadline has learned the identity of the Chinese owner of The H Collective effort. It is controversial exec Jian-hua “Kenny” Huang as he has apparently been in talks with Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum about financing xXx and was involved in the Transformers lawsuit which embroiled Sid Ganis. Huang is also supposed to be getting an office soon on the Paramount lot. Who is he? He was the guy who had a relationship with former Paramount exec Rob Moore and was arranging for all that Chinese coin. See our related story:
PREVIOUSLY, 10 AM: A fourth installment of xXx is on its way via a newly launched U.S.-based film finance, production, marketing and distribution company, The H Collective, which has several projects in place already from producer team of Sid Ganis and Nancy Hult Ganis, producer Mark Johnson and the producer team of Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum. The H Collective says it will be financing and/or producing four projects a year over the next four years. One of those projects will be a yeet untitled xXx sequel, the fourth installment of the action film franchise originally created by Revolution Studios. xXx4 will be produced by Roth and Kirschenbaum.
Although the rep for The H Collective would not reveal who the owner of the company is or where the money is supposedly coming from, Deadline has learned that it is coming out of China and, in fact, there is a press announcement coming at the same time out of Shanghai Film Festival today that involves all the producers. A new CEO for this privately-financed company is expected to be announced shortly. There is, as yet, no license showing up in the CA Secretary of State’s office to operate a business in the state under The H Collective name, however.
Controversial exec Jian-hua “Kenny” Huang may be behind The H Collective. How The H Collective will be structured is anyone’s guess at this moment as the (unrevealed) owners are still building it out and we hear they will likely be looking for more Chinese investment. Greenlighting will be done with the owners in conjunction with the the producers and the production model ranges from big-budget films like xXx to smaller films looking for Oscar.
It is known that Ganis, especially, has deep ties to China already. In fact, he was one of the first to form an alliance with the Chinese government to help distribute Hollywood films. The former president of the Academy, Ganis was co-founder and Chairman of Jiaflix Enterprises and has been a consultant with Wuxi Studios (located near Shanghai). He counts among his friends a number of heavy hitters and CEOs in China. It was during one the Shanghai Film Festivals that the Ganis-led Jiaflix signed a deal on Transformers: Age of Extinction, which ended up in a nasty lawsuit over money exchanged and a claim that the Chinese properties weren’t featured in the film.
In addition, it makes sense that it would be Huang as he is known to have been involved in lawsuits surrounding the Transformers movies.
In addition to financing and producing films, The H Collective says it will also acquire distribution rights to select content. The company has an exclusive partnership with Beijing Culture, an entertainment conglomerate in China, and has secured North and South American rights to three films for which it will handle distribution and marketing. The films include Wolf Warrior 2, the sequel to 2015’s hit film Wolf Warrior, which grossed $80M in China and is one of the most highly anticipated releases this summer. They also will distribute Hanson and the Beast and A Better Tomorrow 4.
Other projects that the H Collective are financing is A Children’s Song from the Ganises about two students competing for a music scholarship who discover that their original compositions are based on a single family song. Both determined to prove ownership, it leads them to uncover the long lost true origin of the melody: a story of salvation and hope when over 20,000 Jews immigrated to Shanghai during WWII.
Roth and Kirschenbaum are also producing Three Sisters, an action comedy starring Ruby Rose and others yet to be announced, that will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) and written by Derek Haas (Wanted).
Mark Johnson has three projects readying with the H Collective. The producer is developing the dramatic thriller The Parts You Lose about a young, deaf boy who comes across a wounded man in a snowdrift and moves him to a nearby barn, helping to nurse him back to health. Before long, it becomes clear how dangerous this man is, and the unlikely friendship that develops between the two may have grave consequences. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) will star.
Johnson will also produce a horror-thriller from screenwriter Brian Anderson called Raven Road. The logline: After a friend dies in mysterious circumstances on a deserted stretch of road made famous by urban legend, a group of teenagers venture down the road to see if there is truth to the myth.
In addition, Johnson is also on board the action/comedy White House Chef about a Chinese chef who must save the First Family after unwittingly becoming involved in a secret terrorist plot targeting an important State dinner.