Iron Man 3 will be co-produced by a Chinese film company and partly filmed in China, the Walt Disney Co announced Monday, as Hollywood seeks to tap into the Asian nation's fast-growing movie market.
Filming for the third movie in the billion-dollar franchise from Marvel Studios -- a Disney subsidiary -- is due to start in May in the United States. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle.
The film will be co-produced by DMG Entertainment, a Chinese film company that will make an undisclosed investment in the movie, Walt Disney, Marvel and the Chinese firm announced on Monday.
Parts of the film will also be shot in China beginning later this summer, they added.
"Adding a local flavor, and working with our new local partner, will enhance the appeal and relevance of our characters in China's fast-growing film marketplace," Rob Steffens, General Manager of Operations and Finance for Marvel Studios, said in a statement.
Dan Mintz, head of DMG Entertainment, added that the three-way collaboration marked a "milestone" in global entertainment.
"This signifies the first multi-billion dollar franchise to be produced between Hollywood and China," he said.
China has become the holy grail for Hollywood film studios eager to cash in on a potentially hugely lucrative market that boasts the fastest growing movie box office in the world.
Last year, cinemas in China raked in more than 13 billion yuan ($2 billion), a nearly 30 percent increase from 2010, the state Xinhua news agency has reported.
But foreign studios and film distributors face a tough time in the Asian powerhouse, where authorities limit to 20 the number of foreign movies allowed to be screened in China every year.
Despite this, Hollywood blockbusters are incredibly popular in China and foreign films took in just under half of box office earnings last year, Xinhua has said, quoting the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.