Born to a military family in Beijing in 1960, Wang Zhongjun followed the family tradition by enlisting at the age of 16. After leaving the army, he worked for a few years as an art designer and photographer, and then as an advertising manager.
In 1989, Wang flew to the US to attend university – first studying media at the University of Michigan, followed by a masters degree from State University of New York. While studying, he kept a part-time job – so by the time he returned to China in 1994, he had saved $100,000, mostly from delivering food. He used this money to set up Huayi Brothers Advertising Company with his brother, Wang Zhonglei.
Wang got into making movies via television. In 1998, he met a friend who told him about the TV business. Wang quickly invested in a TV drama and subsequently doubled his money. He then invested in three feature films, but only one made any money.
His luck changed when he met director Feng Xiaogang. In 2000, after working together on A Sigh, Wang and Feng decided to cooperate over the long term. At the same time Huayi Brothers and Taihe Film Investment Company was established, with Wang acquiring Feng’s studio for Rmb600,000. With Feng at the creative helm, Huayi went on to have a series of hits – such as Sorry Baby, Big Shot’s Funeral and Assembly. Its most recent blockbuster, Aftershock, was selected as the Chinese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2011 Academy Awards.
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In 2009, Huayi Brothers became one of the first companies to list on the Growth Enterprise Board in Shenzhen, raising Rmb620 million ($94 million). Wang’s ambition is to become China’s Time Warner, as well as its Walt Disney – the idea is that Huayi will not be just a film and TV company, but a broader media and entertainment enterprise.
And to relax
Wang has pastimes typical for a movie mogul – such as tasting fine cigars and collecting contemporary art. And others not so typical: “I still have a niche hobby, planting trees! I have now planted more than 500, mostly ancient and rare species.”
With a fortune worth Rmb4.5 billion, Wang ranks 303 on the 2010 Hurun Rich List.
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