China's Huayi Bros. studio said late Monday it had reached a deal with an "unnamed American partner" to jointly invest in, shoot and release "no fewer" than 18 films before the end of 2017.
Huayi would share in the copyrights of the films and enjoy distribution rights in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Taiwan, the company said in a statement. Huayi would also share in revenue from the films' global distribution.
The company said the agreement was key to "improving the company's influence in the international market."
Last year, Huayi was involved with the Brad Pitt-Shia LaBeouf production "Fury," from Sony's Columbia Pictures, and in October announced its new U.S. subsidiary was financing a Chinese-language remake of "Only You," a 1994 romance from Sony's TriStar label starring Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei.
A source familiar with the 18-picture deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to damage business relationships, said Huayi's U.S. partner was not one of the six major studios nor was it a "mini-major" such as Lionsgate. The total investment would be in the vicinity of $50 million, the source said.
Huayi has also invested in Keanu Reeves' "John Wick" and Johnny Depp's "Mordecai," both being distributed by Lionsgate.
Huayi was mentioned as a possible investor in former