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Is Wang Zhongjun China's Harvey Weinstein?

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Talk Asia: Wang Zhongjun
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wang Zhongjun is one half of siblings who run China's Huayi Brothers Media company
  • Firm has become China's most influential film production company
  • Also represents China's top actors and produces TV shows
  • Now a multi-millionaire, Wang once delivered pizzas while living in the U.S.

(CNN) -- Surrounded by expensive pieces of Chinese art purchased from auction houses in London and New York, Wang Zhongjun, China's 50-year old film mogul, appears the very model of a modern Chinese entrepreneur.

Luxuriating with his wealth, Wang explains that all the success, money and pieces of art he has gathered thanks to his film and TV production company, Huayi Brothers Media, wasn't very carefully planned.

"Our [company] goals weren't very clear so and we didn't know if it was a good idea or not [to make films]. Maybe we didn't find it difficult because our goals weren't clear," he told CNN.

Wang founded Huayi Brothers Media group with his youngest brother Wang Zhonglei in 1994, originally doing advertising commissions. It morphed into a film production company in 1998 and Wang and his brother haven't looked back.

It has grown to become perhaps China's most influential film producer with over 50 films released, most of them huge box office hits in China. The company also produces numerous TV shows and represents most of China's top acting talent.

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The opulence and attention Wang is now accustomed to -- "people want to know me, hoping to find success and to meet famous people" -- is a long way from when he worked in the U.S. delivering pizzas.

Two years after returning to China he says he was making millions of dollars, something his friends back in the U.S. couldn't believe.

"They thought I was joking. Now everybody knows how fast business is growing in China," said Wang.

While tiny in comparison to Hollywood, China's film and cinema industry is enjoying something of a boom and Wang is bullish about China's homegrown market.

"The media tends to think film companies aren't good business or aren't likely to grow," he says.

To make sure it does grow and audiences can see their films, Huayi Brothers Media are planning on building almost 200 cinemas this year in China; a country where DVDs, mostly pirated copies, are still the main source of film-watching.

"China does have a big problem with intellectual property protection," says Wang.

"Knowing that intellectual property is not well protected, we need to make sure our main income comes from the box office -- follow up products won't generate much income."

Changing the types of films as well as the film-watching experience is also on Wang's agenda. After over 50 releases, Wang believes his company has gone some way to update the face of Chinese cinema.

"Everybody followed what was considered to be a successful model like Kung Fu films. In recent years though, Chinese films have begun to prosper. Our company started making films that haven't been made before, like war films, spy films, comedies and disasters," he said.

While keeping ticket sales high and collaborating with U.S. big hitters like Sony and Disney, Wang still has an eye on what's important, namely making films people want to see.

"The most important thing is, regardless if it's an American or a Chinese company; we have to make good films to keep our audience happy," he said.

 
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