Legendary Entertainment, the U.S. media company behind such box office hits as THE HANGOVER PART II, INCEPTION and THE DARK KNIGHT, has set up a joint venture with Huayi Brothers, China’s leading non-state film group, to produce films and other content for a global audience. Legendary East, the Hong Kong-based new venture, intends to produce one to two films a year for global audiences from 2013. The deal marks legendary’s formal entry into the Chinese market, where many larger rivals are already very active, with Fox and Warner Brothers having already done co-productions for the Chinese market. Huayi Brothers will distribute the films produced by Legendary East in China, while Warner Brothers will distribute the titles in the rest of the world.
China is one of the fastest growing cinema markets in the world, although limitations on the number of foreign-made films have curtailed the ambitions of the Hollywood studios. It is predicted that by 2015, China will become the world’s second largest movie market, with billions in box office receipts a strong possibility.
Legendary, which was founded in 20004 by financier Thomas Tull, has been eyeing the Chinese market for some time. The partnership may circumvent that problem by being the first concrete step towards globalization taken by a Chinese entertainment company. Chinese film companies have begun looking for overseas partners to distribute their titles in the foreign markets, particularly in the United States and Canada which already have strong Chinese-speaking communities.