Paramount Pictures' $1 Billion Film Financing Partnership Is In Jeopardy: Report

By Trey Williams Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Viacom Inc.-owned Paramount Pictures could lose its $1 billion slate financing deal with China's Huahua Media and Shanghai Film Group, according to a report by industry publication The Wrap. Huahua has been a financial and marketing partner for past Paramount films, such as "Transformers: Age of Extinction." The Chinese company had agreed to be acquired by Oriental Time Media for about $158 million, but regulatory concerns reportedly caused OTM to withdraw its offer on March 9. Sources told The Wrap this would most likely prevent Huahua from funding Paramount's film slate. That is a major blow to the studio that is in dire straits after a disappointing 2016 at the box office, coming in behind all of the Hollywood major studios in revenue for the last five years. Paramount Chief Executive Brad Gray announced in February he would step down as Viacom's new CEO Bob Bakish laid out a plan to turn around the company that includes focusing on getting Paramount Pictures back on track. Shares of Viacom's publicly-owned class B shares were down more than 2% in afternoon trade on Friday, but have gained nearly 14% in the trailing 12-month period. The S&P 500 index is up almost 19% during the same time frame.

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