Chinese film production company Huayi Brothers Media Corp. has closed a major deal with Robert Simonds' new movie and TV studio, STX Entertainment, to finance and distribute movies.
Under the deal, Beijing-based Huayi Brothers., one of China's largest film companies, will co-produce and distribute 12 to 15 films annually with STX Entertainment, representing virtually all of the studio's films through the end of 2017, according to a statement released Wednesday by the companies.
The pact -- one of the largest film slate deals between a Hollywood company and a Chinese-based studio -- increases Huayi Brothers' growing global footprint in the entertainment industry. China’s biggest Internet companies, Alibaba and Tencent, have each recently taken 8% interests in Huayi Brothers, making it a leading entertainment business in China.
The partnership between Huayi Brothers and Burbank-based STX Entertainment would be the latest in a series of deals involving Chinese companies and the U.S. film business as China becomes an increasingly important source of revenue for Hollywood. The world's most populous nation saw its box-office revenue jump 34% to $4.8 billion last year, helping the industry set a global box-office record in 2014, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
STX Entertainment closed its initial financing in March 2014. Although financial terms of the deal announced Wednesday were not disclosed, the new arrangement will enable the studio to spend approximately $1 billion every year on producing, marketing and distributing its films worldwide, the companies said.
"I am honored to be in business with [Huayi Brothers founders] Dennis Wang and James Wang, whose vision has done so much to reshape the film and entertainment landscape in Asia, and now here in Hollywood,” Simonds, STX Entertainment's chief executive, said in the statement.
Dennis Wang, who founded Huayi Brothers with his brother in 1994, said the deal will help the company gain access to Hollywood.
"Partnership with STX is an important step as Huayi Brothers implements its international growth strategy and enters the U.S. film market," he said.
Huayi Brothers will partner on nearly every STX Entertainment title produced by the studio through 2017, including the recently announced "The Free State of Jones," directed by Gary Ross and starring Matthew McConaughey and Gugu Mbatha-Raw; "The Gift," a psychological thriller directed by Joel Edgerton and produced by Jason Blum that stars Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Edgerton; and "The Boy," a horror film from William Brent Bell written by Stacey Menear and starring Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”).
STX has made a number of high-profile hires since its debut. The company brought on former Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson to run its movies division in September, and hired Oren Aviv, 20th Century Fox’s former chief marketing officer, that same month.