Disney Teams Up With China’s Jiaxing Media To Develop Live-Action Movies

The landmark deal seems to be aimed at cracking the elusive formula for US-China co-productions.

Walt Disney Studios has struck a deal with China’s Jiaxing Media to develop a number of live-action movies.

Jiaxing Media announced that the two companies would jointly develop live-action movies in a deal lasting two years on Wednesday. Jiaxing Media, which is also known as Jay Walk Studios, is partially owned by Chinese actress Yang Mi.

The two sides hope to make one movie with Chinese elements a year, according to Jiaxing Media’s announcement. The cooperation could include projects that draw on the IP of both companies.

Disney confirmed the agreement with China Film Insider via email on Friday.

The deal seems to be aimed at cracking the elusive formula for US-China co-productions. Films made by Disney and Jiaxing Media will contain Chinese elements and will be aimed at Chinese audiences.

Disney/Marvel’s 2013 release, Iron Man 3, tested, but then ultimately failed to be certified as an official co-production with Beijing-based DMG Entertainment. While its attempt to include Chinese elements fell flat with Chinese audiences, the film still managed to haul in RMB 769 million yuan (US$111 million).

The deal comes in the same week that Disney held a rare world premiere in Shanghai for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The premiere took place at the Disney Shanghai Resort which is also welcoming its 10 millionth guest since its June opening.

Jiaxing Media has been riding high of late on the back of a number of TV and movie hits that have seen its share price rocket.

In early March the company announced plans to raise as much as RMB 275 million ($39.84 million) worth of new shares on the New Third Board, an over-the-counter bourse in Beijing. Even after market regulators questioned the deal, the company is still valued at around RMB 5 billion ($725 million).

The studio has produced hit shows that starred Yang Mi (also known as Mini Yang) such as Eternal Love (三生三世十里桃花), Translator (亲爱的翻译官), and The Witness (我是证人). Jiaxing also boasts a roster of up-and-coming young stars like Dilraba Dilmut, who could easily slot into Disney-style productions.

Mr. Pride vs. Miss Prejudice (傲娇与偏见), the first film in which Jiaxing Media has invested that does not feature Yang, is in theaters right now and has earned RMB 122 million ($17.7 million) so far.

Yang’s next film Fatal Countdown: Reset (逆时营救) hits Chinese screens on June 30.