Fox, Bona Film Group to Co-Produce Movies for China

Fox and the Bona Film Group have struck a partnership after Fox took a minority stake in the company

Fox has partnered with the Bona Film Group, one of China’s largest films companies, to develop, produce and distribute multiple movies in China, the companies announced on Friday.

Fox International Productions and Bona will co-produce the films, intended for the burgeoning Chinese market. Fox parent company News Corp. took a 19.9 percent stake in Bona in May and Jack Q. Gao, a News Corp. executive, joined the company’s board in September.

"This is a significant step in what we believe will be a long-term, multi-faceted collaboration with News Corp. and its subsidiary companies," Dong Yu, founder, chairman and CEO of Bona Film Group Limited, said in a statement. "The films released under this partnership will combine Bona's deep understanding of production, distribution and audience preferences in China with FIP's international expertise to create movies that satisfy audiences' growing demand for blockbuster characteristics. We look forward to the cooperation and anticipated opportunities with FIP."

Film companies of all stripes have been seeking a foothold in China, the fastest growing film market — especially for 3D films.

Box office receipts in China amounted to more than $2 billion in 2011, a 30 percent growth from 2010, according to EntGroup. That makes China the third largest film market after the U.S. and Japan. 

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 The country now boasts almost 11,000 screens, more than 7,000 of which are 3D-capable. Bona is the largest privately owned distributor in China.

All foreign productions face restrictions from the Chinese government, which seeks to promote its homegrown movies with a quota for outside productions. That is one reason Fox has partnered with a local Chinese company, which could qualify the film as a co-production.

"We continue to be excited about the opportunities in the world's fastest growing market,” Sanford Panitch, President of Fox International Productions, stated. “Mr. Yu's vision for Bona combined with the company's stature as one of the leading distributors makes for great opportunities to co-produce and co-distribute Fox International Productions films in China."