Hollywood titan Warner Bros looks to be heading for the lucrative Chinese film industry after agreeing to a Hong Kong-based joint venture with Li Ruigang, dubbed “China’s Rupert Murdoch” by the press.
The South China Morning Post reports that the joint venture will be called Flagship Entertainment Group, owned 51 percent by a consortium led by Li’s China Media Capital (CMC) and 49 percent owned by Warner Bros.
Flagship will focus on producing films and distributing them internationally. Although based in Hong Kong, it will have additional operations in Beijing and Los Angeles.
“This partnership with Hollywood’s most iconic studio will bring Warner Bros.’ deep experience in creative storytelling and unparalleled expertise in producing global titles to China’s film industry,” said Li.
The collaboration is said to be an attempt by Hollywood to gain a bigger share of Chinese box office revenues and marks another step in the sinicization of the US film industry, which in recent years has increasingly been collaborating with Chinese companies and making use of Chinese actors.
“We look forward to working with CMC in this exciting new venture, as we gain additional insight into the Chinese film industry,” Kevin Tsujihara, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., said in a statement. “Warner Bros. has a proud legacy of making great movies, and we’re excited to share that expertise with our colleagues in China.”
The deal is yet another example of Sino-US cooperation announced prior to Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States. A few days ago China’s national railway operator announced a partnership with a US firm to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
By Dominic Jackson