China and Image Nation Abu Dhabi Forge $300 Million Film Fund Pact

Nick Vivarelli
Variety

ROME — China’s government-backed Intercontinental Communication Center (CICC) and Image Nation Abu Dhabi have forged a partnership to set up a $300 million fund to jointly invest in movies and TV content produced in Hollywood, the United Arab Emirates, China and other countries.

At the core of the strategic pact is the so-called Culture China – Image Nation Content Fund, a seven-year fund with an initial capital base of $100 million, equally split by Image Nation and CICC. They will be seeking other China-based partners in return for limited equity interests.

The fund will be co-managed CICC and Image Nation, which is run by U.S. exec Michael Garin.

Image Nation Abu Dhabi has long-term relationships in Hollywood with Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park and Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald’s Parkes/MacDonald shingles. As an advisor to the fund they recently hired Hollywood producer Derek Dauchy, former president of Davis Entertainment, who will be based in Los Angeles.

It seems quite clear that besides creating a media investment axis between China and the Middle East the pact will become a conduit for Chinese investment in Hollywood.

The agreement was signed and announced today in Abu Dhabi, by Image Nation Chairman Mohammed Al Mubarak,  Garin, CICC Deputy Director Jing Shuiqing, and UAE Ambassador to China Omar Al Bitar.

“It is our belief that this partnership between CICC and Image Nation will become a model for cooperation between Chinese and Arab media organisations,” the CICC exec said in a statement.

CICC is the first Sino-foreign financial institution, established in China in 1995. Since then they have forged rapports with over 70 media companies in more than 30 countries, including NBC and National Geographic in the U.S., ITV in the U.K., and Arte in France.

“Image Nation and CICC are complementary entities and our combined expertise will help us further our commitments to building the film and TV industries in our respective countries,” noted Garin.

The most recent Hollywood picture fully financed by Image Nation is Tom Hanks thriller “The Circle,” produced in  association with Parkes MacDonald Productions, with whom, among other titles, they also partnered on feature documentary “He Named Me Malala,” directed by Davis Guggenheim.

Under Garin’s management Image Nation has implemented a multi-pronged strategy of calculated risk investments in Hollywood to help finance bold but commercially viable local projects and build a local industry.

Their other investments in Hollywood films include “99 Homes,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “The Help,” and “Men in Black 3.”

The CICC-Image Nation pact also includes joint production of a China-focused factual entertainment series that will air  22 across the Middle East and North Africa on the Quest Arabiya channel which is co-owned by Image Nation and Discovery Communications, and a training program for young Emirati and Chinese film and TV executives to learn about their respective cultures and media industries.

The overall deal segues from the launch of a $10 billion strategic investment fund by China and the United Arab Emirates in December 2015, extending that rapport into the media industry which Image Nation is growing from scratch in the UAE.

“Abu Dhabi has quickly become the anchor for China’s outreach efforts to the Middle East and North Africa,” said Al Mubarak. “We are honored to extend Abu Dhabi’s relationship with China into the media industry, a sector of great importance to both countries,” he added.

 

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