Former Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov‘s Studio 8 has secured a major investment from Chinese Conglomerate Fosun International, according to a filing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The filing was made Monday morning in Hong Kong, Sunday evening in the United States.
Robinov has been seeking $300 million in equity for several months, and Fosun will contribute a substantial, if not majority, amount of that figure. According to an individual with knowledge of the deal, the investment is valued at more than $100 million, but the filing does not specify an amount.
Studio 8 will raise as much as $1 billion between equity and debt, according to the same individual. Robinov is still speaking with potential investors in Europe about contributing to the equity side of that equation.
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Robinov had also been in discussions with Huayi Brothers about investing in Studio 8, but the prominent Chinese film company opted not to participate this time around. The two parties may still work together in some capacity given the Huayi Brothers’ distribution capabilities in China.
Fosun is a Shanghai-based company that manages a few different types of business, including industrial operations, insurance, direct investment and asset management. It has already invested in Bona Film Group, a leading Chinese film company.
“The Company is optimistic about the future prospects of the Chinese film industry,” the company said in its filing. “Through the Transaction, the Company hopes to introduce Hollywood’s advanced and sophisticated film making expertise and technique, movie concept and technology and complete production and publication systems into the China market, in order to drive the development of the Chinese film industry.”
Robinov has partnered with a Chinese conglomerate at a time when the Chinese film market is more important than ever before. It is now the second largest market in the world after the United States, and many experts project it will surpass the U.S. within the next decade.
Robinov’s alliance with Fosun could help Studio 8’s movies secure distribution in China, a pursuit that has vexed most American distributors. In its press release announcing the investment, Fosun said it will “exercise significant influence over the distribution arrangements” for Studio 8’s movies in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
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“Both China and the U.S. possess the film markets with the most influence and potential and we are excited to unite the markets, teams, technologies and respective advantages and work together on building a number of top-level films including co-production films between China and other countries,” Robinov said in a statement.
Robinov and Sony have been working on a separate deal under which Sony would distribute Studio 8’s movies. Studio 8 would develop, produce and finance its projects, a deal similar to DreamWorks’ deal with Disney.
Robinov would have the right to greenlight his own projects, according to an individual who has spoken with him about it, reserving creative control that he might not have had in a job at another studio.
Robinov worked at Warner Bros. for 16 years, the last six atop the motion picture group, and is known to have strong relationships with filmmakers such as Ben Affleck, Todd Phillips and Alfonso Cuaron. He formed Studio 8 after his messy exit from the studio last summer., a move that became inevitable after Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes passed Robinov over for the job of Warner Bros. CEO.