Hollywood Horror Maestro Takes ‘American Nightmare’ to China

(Bloomberg) -- A Hollywood producer known for profitable low-budget horror films is looking to break into China by partnering with a former Wall Street executive whose movie company is partly backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., the country’s largest social-media and gaming firm.

Blumhouse Productions has agreed to co-develop and co-produce Chinese language horror and thriller films with Tang Media Partners, founded by former Bear Stearns Vice Chairman Donald Tang, the companies told reporters on Monday during the Shanghai International Film Festival. They didn’t disclose any financial terms.

Producer Jason Blum and Tang are betting on horror films in a market where censorship prohibits many of the genre’s staples, including ghosts, the supernatural, gushing blood and over-the-top violence. The payoff for hit films that do get the green light from China’s film authorities can be large, and the country’s box-office sales total is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest by 2020.

“The film market in China is super exciting because it is exploding,” Blum said in an interview. “The market for genre movies, thrillers and scary movies is super underdeveloped. I think they are not very quality movies and kind of are afterthoughts. If we can make quality genre movies, there’s an opportunity for a ton of growth.”

‘Get Out’

Blum, whose recent work includes Oscar best picture nomination “Get Out,” shrugged off censorship constraints. “There are a lot of ways where you can scare people without ghosts,” he said, adding that he’s excited about working with the different “creative parameters.”

The partnership’s first project is tentatively titled “American Nightmare,” and will be shot in Los Angeles for distribution in China. The script is in development and the companies are aiming for a 2019 release, according to Tang.

Tang Media Partners, founded in 2015, acquired Open Road Films, distributor of Academy Award winner “Spotlight,” almost a year ago, after snapping up international film sales and distribution company IM Global a year earlier.

Blum’s 2007 thriller “Paranormal Activity” is one of the most profitable horror films ever made, earning $193 million in the global box office against a budget of $15,000.

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