Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency is looking for more lights, camera, action in China, expanding its footprint through a partnership with CMC Capital Partners.
Creative Artists, which entered the Chinese market in 2005, has participated in most major Sino-American co-productions and contributed to the packaging, selling and financing of 75 Chinese-language films. These include the first film to break the 1-billion yuan mark at domestic box offices, Lost in Thailand. It has also helped to direct more than $400 million in Chinese capital into English-language content.
Through its deal with CMC, Creative Artists will build on its current operations in China, expanding its cross-border talent management business. The firm has represented the likes of Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Tom Cruise, as well as Chinese directors Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express) and Zhang Yimou (The Great Wall).
“For more than a decade, we have served as a vital bridge to and within the Chinese market, utilizing our deep experience and network to support the work of the region’s best artists and to develop opportunities within the market for international talent,” Creative Artists President Richard Lovett said in a press release.
The move follows one last year by Creative Artists rival William Morris Endeavor-International Management Group, which entered into a joint venture with investors including Sequoia Capital China and Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings Ltd. to develop its sports and entertainment business in China.
A 5-year investment frenzy that saw billions of dollars flow between China and Hollywood hit a rough patch with the derailment of three major cross-border tie-ups over the past two months.
Capital controls aimed at slowing a flood of outbound investment to support the Chinese yuan at home and curb a buying wave that some have called irrational appear to have contributed to the deals’ unraveling. Chinese buyers reportedly had second thoughts about cross-cultural difficulties and overpayment for assets.
CMC was founded in 2010, with an initial investment of 5 billion yuan. It was the first domestic cultural industry investment fund to be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s central planning agency. CMC’s portfolio includes IMAX China, visual effects company Base FX, film company Imagine Entertainment, variety-production company Star China, and it has joint ventures with Warner Bros. and DreamWorks Animation.
China’s box office sales grew 3% last year, ending a decadelong streak of double-digit growth, as analysts said maturing audiences could mean slower growth in years to come.
By Sun Wenjing and Lucille Liu