- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

BEIJING (AP) - Chinese and foreign film producers, companies and investment firms signed movie cooperation deals worth 13.8 billion RMB ($2.3 billion) on Monday, demonstrating how foreign movie makers increasingly want a piece of the growing Chinese market.

The 36 deals were signed on the sidelines of the Beijing International Film Festival, an annual event in its fifth year, and were worth about a third more than those signed last year, according to Zhao Zhiyong, of the festival organizing committee.

The former chairman of Walt Disney Studios signed a deal with CITIC Guoan, a unit of state-owned CITIC Group Corporation, to invest $150 million into his new Dick Cook Studios.

Cook, chairman and CEO, told the signing ceremony: “Our discussions with CITIC Guoan have always come back to the importance of family entertainment, whether it’s through movies, television, books and even things that have not even been invented. In the coming years we will look forward to telling quality stories for the entire family that will live on from generation to generation.”

Beijing Hairun Pictures, the film production arm of Chinese TV production company Hairun Media Group, and Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, whose holding company is the Los Angeles-based Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, signed a deal to co-produce five feature films. One will be a biopic of Stephon Marbury, the former NBA player who led a Beijing basketball team to three championships since moving here four years ago, and Marbury will play himself in the film, according to the two companies.

A host of Sino-foreign co-productions were announced, including “The Beast,” a Chinese-New Zealand animation, the Chinese-Irish “Under the Dancing Stars,” a love story set against dancing in Ireland and Inner Mongolia, and the Chinese-Australian “Girl of Ashima,” based on a Chinese folk tale.

Other deals included a fund to help young aspiring filmmakers, building cinemas and a theme park.

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