Bennett Pozil heads the Corporate Banking Division at East West Bank and is a leading industry expert on US-China cross-border entertainment financing. His team also specializes in middle market lending, trade finance and developing business opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.
Media and entertainment lending has expanded substantially over the past five years under Pozil’s leadership, making East West Bank one of the premier entertainment financers in both the US and Greater China, and the only bank with a significant presence in both markets. With strong ties in the entertainment industries of both countries, East West Bank is able to add value in financing and facilitating landmark partnerships, like financing for Bona’s investment in TSG for a slate of tent pole films produced and released by Twentieth Century Fox including The Martian. East West Bank also took the lead on debt financing for the co-investment deal between Lionsgate Entertainment and Hunan TV & Ltd. In addition, East West Bank was the sole financer of the deal between STX Entertainment and Huayi Brothers Media Corp for the co-financing, co-production, and distribution for 12 to 15 releases per year.
The entertainment lending team has made over $1.8 billion in loans since 2011 to finance the production and distribution of film and TV products in the US and China markets. For example, East West Bank was the lead lender for the production of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2016), and worked with Le Vision Pictures in the financing of its share of the biggest US-China co-production Great Wall (2016). Other high profile financing projects include The Hunger Games franchise and Silver Linings Playbook (2012), several popular Netflix drama series including Orange is the New Black and Marco Polo, plus multiple Tyler Perry television series for the OWN Network among others. In the Chinese market, the team has financed many top local language films and television programs including director John Woo’s two-part film blockbuster The Crossing (2014-2015), director Chen Kaige’s film Monk Comes Down the Mountain (2015), and an English language film Skiptrace (2016) starring Jacky Chan and Fan Bing Bing. They also have created banking relationships with the major Chinese studios including Bona Film Group, Enlight Media Group, Le Vision Pictures, New Classics Media, Talent Television & Film and Huayi Brothers. The entertainment team has also made a dedicated push into the digital media space, working with such companies as Fullscreen, Digital Domain and The Virtual Reality Company.
During his career, Pozil has structured the financing of hundreds of motion pictures, including major Hollywood films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Hero (2004), Fearless (2006), and Lost In Translation (2003). In March 2015, Pozil was named as one of the Most Influential Lenders in Los Angeles County by Los Angeles Business Journal. As a leading industry voice on US-China joint ventures, Pozil is a frequent speaker and panelist on cross-border film partnerships and financing at international film festivals and summits. Recent engagements include panelist at the Producers Guild of America’s Produced By Conference and film finance summit of the Beijing International Film Festival, moderator at the Asia Society US-China Film Summit, speaker at the Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival, and keynote presenter at the inaugural 2014 US China Film & Television Industry Expo. Pozil is a regular lecturer and adjunct professor at the Beijing Film Academy.