Li Ming, the 47-year-old CEO of new and expanding Chinese film company Galloping Horse, unexpectedly died of a heart attack on Thursday evening.
Li Ming [File photo]
Li, born in 1966 into a military family, graduated from Beijing Broadcasting Institute in 1989. He began his career by shooting commercials for international and domestic advertising companies. In 1994, he founded an advertising company. In 1998, he founded Beijing Galloping Horse Media Co., which produces and invests in TV series. Since 2009, the company started to transform its investment structure and invest more in films. It was involved in various high profile projects, including "The Karate Kid," featuring Jackie Chan; Ning Hao's 2013 thriller "No Man's Land"; and TV historic drama "Three Kingdoms." In 2010, Galloping House also started to get involved in the theater chain business and build movie theaters in smaller cities in China.
In 2012, Li made headlines with a US$30 million purchase of Digital Domain, a former Hollywood visual effects powerhouse co-founded by renowned director James Cameron. Despite ambitious announcements about upcoming collaborations, including a digital illusion of late Taiwanese pop icon Teresa Teng on stage, Galloping Horse sold 70 percent stake just months later to Hong Kong's Sun Innovation Holdings Ltd for more than US$50 million. Observers said this was because of high costs and a lack of enthusiasm for special effects in the Chinese market.
Galloping House's latest major investment is John Woo's "The Crossing." The film stars Zhang Ziyi, Song Hye-kyo, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Masami Nagasawa and is due out in 2014.
Actor Tong Dawei and several industry insiders mourned Li, but Galloping Horse hasn't yet released an official statement. It is unknown what affect Li's passing will have on the company's projects.