Paramount inks $1B film co-finance deal with 2 Chinese firms

FILE - In this July 8, 2015 file photo, the main gate to Paramount Studios is seen on Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles. Paramount Pictures said it has inked a co-financing deal with two Chinese companies for the Hollywood studio's slate of movies over the next three years, in a statement released Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

HONG KONG — Paramount Pictures said Friday it has inked a co-financing deal with two Chinese companies for the Hollywood studio's slate of movies over the next three years.

Under the terms of the deal, Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media will also set up an office on Paramount's lot later this year, the studio said in a statement.

The Chinese companies will provide roughly $1 billion to finance at least 25 percent of Paramount's films, according to a person familiar with the deal who was not allowed to speak publicly.

Film industry publications cited the same figures.

Paramount is planning to produce 15 to 17 films in 2017.

It's the latest China-Hollywood tie-up, as both sides aim to beef up their presence in each other's movie industries.

Chinese investors have been expanding into entertainment companies overseas in a bid to boost the country's international cultural influence, also known as "soft power," as well as acquire expertise. Foreign producers, meanwhile, are seeking greater access to China's growing film market.

Last year, Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group teamed up with Sony Pictures to make big-budget films while Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners partnered with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group's media arm to co-produce films for global audiences.

Paramount Pictures has already cooperated with Huahua on several films including "Transformers: the Age of Extinction" and "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back." Shanghai Film Group was an investor in the latter movie.

Paramount, whose corporate parent Viacom was embroiled last year in a bitter management battle, has been struggling to produce hits.

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