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Huayi Brothers to produce unfilmed Akira Kurosawa script

Japanese director wrote The Masque Of The Black Death before his death in 1998.

China’s Huayi Brothers Media has unveiled an ambitious slate of new projects, including The Masque Of The Black Death, based on an unfilmed script written by Japan’s most influential filmmaker, Akira Kurosawa.

Kurosawa started writing the script in 1975 after directing Dersu Uzala as an adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Masque Of The Red Death. He completed the script before his death in 1998, but it never went into production.

The Poe short story follows a prince and his noblemen attempting to hide from a deadly epidemic behind the walls of a castle. The courtiers hold an elaborate masquerade, as a distraction from the devastation outside, but the Red Death itself turns up as a guest.

Huayi Brothers is collaborating on the project with Chen Kuo-fu’s CKF Pictures. Speaking a press conference in Beijing, Chen and Huayi Brothers co-chief James Wang said a director was not yet attached to the project, but the company is seeking a young filmmaker. The film won’t be completed until 2020.

The Beijing-based studio also confirmed that it’s producing a third installment in Tsui Hark’s Detective Dee series – Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings – which reunites the cast of the second installment: Mark Chao, Carina Lau, Lin Gengxin and Feng Shaofeng.

The first two films in the Detective Dee series – Detective Dee: Mystery Of The Phantom Flame (2010) and Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon (2013) grossed nearly $130m (RMB900m) at the China box office. The third film is being lined up for release over Chinese New Year 2018.

Huayi Brothers is also producing Onmyoji, based on a popular mobile game, which it expects to release over the October National Day holidays in 2018; a prequel to Chinese fantasy film Painted Skin (2008); and Mojin Returns, a sequel to the studio’s 2015 hit Mojin: The Lost Legend, which is China’s fourth-highest grossing local film of all time.

The Painted Skin prequel and Mojin Returns are both being lined up for release in 2019.

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