US-based Aquamen Entertainment and Pigmental Studios are teaming with Chinese and Korean partners on $40m 3D animated feature Kong.

The project aims to give a sci-fi twist to the Chinese classic Journey To The West. It will go back to the origins of the main character, Sun Wukong (aka the Monkey King), who gets caught in the power struggle between two alien civilisations.

Aquamen is also collaborating with the China Cultural Chamber of Commerce, a trade organisation for the private sector, on the project. The organisation’s chairman Robin Li, also chairman of internet giant Baidu, is talking to the producers about boarding the project.

The producers are also in talks with a major Chinese investor to finance the film, which will be set up as a US-Chinese-Korean co-production and use Chinese and Korean animators and other talent. They are also in talks with a Hollywood director to be announced soon.

An international team of illustrators and concept artists are already on board the project, including Arnaud Valette (Man Of Steel, Prometheus) and Justin Goby Fields (Maleficent), along with composer Mark McKenzie (Mr & Mrs Smith).

Aquamen was founded by computer scientist and entrepreneur Gary Zhang and producer-director JJ Kim, whose debut feature Hers won best film at Jeonju International Film Festival in 2007.

Pigmental Studios, headed by Marina Martins and Adam Miller, is a full service animation company based in Los Angeles.