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Reel China: Chinese companies take stake in China Lion

October 31, 2011 |  8:30 pm

China Lion
Two of China’s biggest filmmaking concerns have made investments in China Lion Film Distribution, a new company aimed at bringing Chinese-language movies to North American multiplexes.

The deal, announced Sunday night, for Huayi Brothers Media Corp. and Bona Film Group Ltd. to each acquire 20% of China Lion for an undisclosed sum should increase the number of movies China Lion will exhibit in the United States and Canada.

China Lion, which works closely with theater chain AMC, is currently negotiating to acquire domestic distribution rights to “The Flower of War,” a historical drama starring Christian Bale that recently filmed in China, according to people familiar with the talks who were not authorized to speak publicly.

“This is a major milestone for both Bona and China’s film industry, as it will allow overseas Chinese to watch Chinese movies without delays, as well as open modern Chinese movies to a broader North American audience, and thereby help promote Chinese culture,” Dong Yu, the chairman of Bona, said in a statement.

“In the past year China Lion has broken important ground by bringing to North American audiences the very best of Chinese cinema both from Huayi and other companies. We believe their management team will continue to build Chinese distribution in the important North America marketplace,” said Zhonglei Wang, president of Huayi Brothers.

China Lion has had mixed to poor results with its Chinese-language releases so far.

“If You Are the One 2” grossed more than $420,000 in domestic theaters a year ago, making it China Lion’s top release in its first year of doing business. But only three other of China Lion’s remaining nine films — “Sex and Zen 3D,” “Beginning of the Great Revival” and a remake of “What Women Want,” all of which came out this year — have sold more than $100,000 in tickets.


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— John Horn

Photo: China Lion Chief Executive Milt Barlow, left, China Lion President Jiang Yanming, AMC President of Programming Robert J. Lenihan, Bona Film Group Chairman and Chief Executive Yu Dong, Huayi President Zhonglei Wang and newly appointed China Lion Chairman Greg Coote. Credit: China Lion.

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