China’s Bona Film Group has boarded Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as a co-investor, the company confirmed to Variety Monday. The company did disclose the value of its investment, or the scale of its stake.
Backed by Sony’s Columbia Pictures and produced by David Heyman’s London-based Heyday Films, the film is set to premiere July 26 in North America. In return for its investment, Bona is understood to be taking a percentage of the film’s global box office and to manage Greater China distribution. Sony will handle distribution elsewhere.
Written and directed by Tarantino, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, chief among a long roster of other A-listers. Set in 1969 Los Angeles around the time of the Charles Manson murders, “Once Upon a Time” tells the story of an actor and his stunt double trying to make it in Hollywood. The movie is the first of Tarantino’s projects to come out since the director cut ties with the Weinstein Company in the wake of multiple charges of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein.
Imported films in China are typically released via state-owned distributors, but the rules are flexible in cases where a private-sector Chinese firm is an investor or coproducer. Lately, Bona has been one of the more proactive Chinese studios investing in foreign content.
In 2017, Bona and CAA launched a $150 million content acquisition and investment fund targeting big co-production and English-language international films. The fund was an initial investor in the Roland Emmerich-helmed historical action film “Midway,” securing Bona Greater China rights for one of the most sought-after titles from Cannes last year.
Last month, Bona announced it would co-finance and hold Greater China rights to Brad Pitt’s sci-fi thriller “Ad Astra.” The deal added to a growing list of international works for which Bona has China rights, including animated titles “Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” and “The Queen’s Corgi,” as well as Studiocanal’s “In Cold Pursuit.”
The Bona-backed family film “A Dog’s Way Home” is currently in Chinese theaters, where it has grossed $4.7 million (RMB31.6 million) as of Monday afternoon, after 11 days of screenings.