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Builder’s foray into films costs $220.5M
HONG KONG | A Hollywood-China movie production venture that plans to make big budget films for worldwide audiences has been cleared for an infusion of $220.5 million from an unlikely source - a construction company.
The construction firm, which said it wants to diversify and thinks the movie industry has strong growth potential, is taking a 50 percent stake in the production company, Legendary East Ltd., in exchange for the investment.
Legendary Entertainment has produced global blockbusters, including “Inception” and the two “Hangover” movies, while Huayi releases include the hit Feng Xiaogang disaster epic “Aftershock,” the kung fu drama “Shaolin” and the Tsui Hark fantasy epic “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.”
Paul Y. executives promised to leave the moviemaking to the experts.
“What we’re bringing to table is, practically, cash,” Deputy Chairman Tom Lau said. “We do not understand the business of motion pictures nor do we pretend that we can contribute” anything more than money.
The Hong Kong-based venture, which was announced in June, plans to make one or two big budget movies a year, starting in 2013, for worldwide audiences that are also commercially viable in China. The movies will be mainly in English and feature themes based on Chinese history, mythology or culture.
Movies produced by the partnership will be allowed to bypass Chinese import restrictions that effectively limit the country to about 20 foreign blockbusters a year. Chinese box office takings surged 64 percent to $1.5 billion in 2010 and are expected to grow 30 percent this year to $2 billion.
Mr. Chiu said there are many other stories from Chinese history the venture could draw on, such as the epic novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” a fictional account of feuding warlords amid the disintegration of the Han dynasty in the second century.
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