ACQUISITIONS

Fosun bolsters China's film world clout with deal to buy into Studio 8

HK-listed firm's move to invest an undisclosed amount in Studio 8 will see its resources pooled with Hollywood's under a global platform

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 5:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, 5:58am

Fosun International, a Hong Kong-listed investment company, is investing in an American film studio founded by former Warner Bros president Jeff Robinov.

The Shanghai-based company said yesterday it would invest an undisclosed amount in Studio 8, a multiplatform media company founded by Robinov.

Studio 8 said it would "work closely" with Fosun on developing television and digital content, establishing versatile multiplatform distribution opportunities and collaborating with global production and brand-based properties including those in the Chinese market.

Beijing has been trying to boost its cultural influence overseas in recent years to match its weight as the world's second-largest economy. State-backed investment funds such as China Media Capital, founded in 2009, and other enterprises have been pouring investment into the entertainment industry.

Dalian Wanda announced last year that it would invest as much as 50 billion yuan (HK$63.03 billion) to build the world's largest film and television industry project in China. The conglomerate - owned by the mainland's richest person, Wang Jianlin - acquired United States cinema chain AMC for US$2.6 billion in 2012.

Fosun's previous investments in the field have included mainland display-advertising provider Focus Media and movie producer and distributor Bona Film.

Zhang Jiangang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he believed the investments were primarily business decisions rather than efforts to expand China's "soft power".

"I think to invest is to make profit," he said. "After assessing the market environment, the Chinese firms may think it is safer and easier to make money from the US film market."

The film industry on the mainland is expected to overtake the US as the world's largest market in terms of box-office receipts in the next few years, but Zhang said the local film-making sector was still weak.

"Less than 10 domestic films can generate good financial returns for investors every year," he said.

Fosun said it would exercise "significant influence" over the distribution of movies produced by Studio 8 on the mainland and in Hong Kong. "There will be more opportunities to share Chinese elements and stories in Studio 8's Chinese co-productions," it said. "This investment is a significant strategic footprint for Fosun in the global movie and entertainment industry."

Fosun chairman Guo Guangchang said: "Our partnership will combine the resources of China and Hollywood to build a global platform not only focusing on movie and entertainment investment, but also aiming to integrate our resources around the world."