SHANGHAI — “Spider-Man"creator Stan Lee’s first Chinese superhero, “The Annihilator,” topped the inaugural slate of feature film co-productions announced Monday by state-run National Film Capital.
NFC, a Beijing-based entertainment industry fund management company chaired by former China Film Group President Yang Buting, will draw on an initial 2.6-billion yuan ($422 million) raised by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and other partners, NFC co-founder Kathy Peng, a former investment banker in Hong Kong, said.
Founded in 2008, NFC was dormant until recently. As China’s box office picked up steam, Yang traveled to Los Angeles in February to publicize NFC, just ahead of China’s announcement that it would allow more Hollywood imports into its booming market.
“We are going to touch every sector of the film industry, from cinemas to production and more,” Peng said on the sidelines of a news conference to detail NFC’s plans, held on the third day of the 15th Shanghai International Film Festival.
China’s ticket sales jumped 30% to $1.2 billion last year. The country is now the leading export market for Hollywood films but rarely has produced films that succeed overseas.
NFC is the latest state-backed entertainment venture to announce partnerships with Hollywood as business between Hollywood and China heats up. Earlier this year, China Media Capital and two other state-backed partners announced a deal to help DreamWorks build an animation studio in Shanghai.
Peng said NFC has raised capital for two funds already, a $127-million fund run from Beijing by Xu, and a $57-million fund she will oversee from Shanghai that will put one-quarter of the money raised into developing new cinemas in China and three quarters into film production.
NFC also is seeking private equity partners to help raise a third series of funds totaling at least $238 million, Peng said.
“The Annihilator’s” producer, Eric Mika, chief executive of Magic Storm Entertainment, said the film is a 2014 release, with a budget of more than $100 million.
“It will be a 100% Hollywood-China co-production,” Mika said, declining to say how much of the budget would come from NFC and how much would have to come from the Hollywood studio co-production partner he hopes to attract.
Mika said there was also lots of “soft money” from brands interested in being attached to “The Annhilator” — both Chinese brands wanting to go West and Western brands wanting to break into China.
Comic book godfather Lee, now 89 years old, spoke to the news conference in a pretaped video, saying his trip to China (about 10 years ago) was “one of the most wonderful times of my life.”
“Let’s make a Chinese superhero as soon as possible and as magnificently as possible,” Lee said.
The next step for “The Annihilator,” Mika said, was to find the right young Chinese actor to play the lead. The Magic Storm website describes the story as being that of “a young Chinese man given a second chance as an international superhero, who returns home to mete out justice.”
Other film projects NFC announced were the action-fantasy “Dragon Scroll,” which Los Angeles-based producer Shimon Arama said would be made as an $80-million Chinese-French-Spanish-Canadian co-production; the historical epic “Genghis Khan,” from Los Angeles-based writer and director Peter Doyle; and a film version of the Chinese nautical history “1421.”