Hollywood studio Legendary teams with state-owned China Film to make big-budget blockbusters

HONG KONG – Legendary Entertainment, the Hollywood studio behind “The Hangover” franchise, is teaming with state-owned China Film Group to make more global blockbusters as it advances a delayed expansion in the rapidly growing Chinese movie market.

Their deal is the latest example of growing collaboration between entertainment companies in the world’s two biggest movie markets.

Legendary, which also made “Inception” and “The Dark Knight,” said its Chinese venture, Legendary East, signed an agreement with the Chinese company’s unit, China Film Co., on Thursday in Beijing. The deal calls for the companies to fund development and production of multiple films over three years.

Their first collaborations will be announced in the coming months. Legendary said each is planned as a US-China co-production. That means they can get around China’s import restrictions that limit the number of foreign movies shown on the country’s 12,000 screens to 34 each year.

The companies said they plan to produce movies for global audiences that will be “tentpole-scale” — in other words, the big-budget, highly promoted productions that earn enough box-office revenue to support the whole studio, in the same way that a tentpole holds up a tent.

No specific details were released.

In a statement, China Film Co. Chairman Han Sanping said the partnership will allow the companies to “make films that are more appealing to filmgoers, creating new genres that, through the magic of film, bring greater variety to audiences around the world.”

Faced with stagnant box-office growth at home, Hollywood studios are keen to break into China, now the world’s second-biggest film market. Box-office receipts in China totalled $2.7 billion last year and pushed the country’s movie market past previous second-biggest, Japan, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

Legendary East was set up in 2011 with the aim of making one or two “major, event-style films” starting in 2013. But the company had remained quiet since then and a plan to raise $220.5 through a deal with a Hong Kong construction company was scuppered by rocky financial markets.



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