Start-up Chinese production outfit The Unison Company is teaming with Beijing Shengshi Huarui to produce $30m epic action movie Song Of Justice.
Shengshi Huarui will finance and handle China distribution of the film, which is based on the true story of Chinese poet warrior Wen Tian Xiang as he led the Song Dynasty in its last stand against Kublai Kahn’s army.
The producers describe the project as a “Chinese Braveheart” with a Hollywood screenplay structure and supporting roles which could be played by international actors – including a young Marco Polo and the lead villain role of a Turkish general.
The film is being produced by Unison co-founders Weiko Lin, who is a professor of screenwriting at Northwestern University in Chicago, and CEO Stacy Fan.
Dean Hou, executive producer of Ip Man: Legend of Grandmaster, is overseeing the project for Beijing Shengshi Huarui Investment and Management, which previously invested in Chinese epics such as Painted Skin and 14 Blades.
The project is one of four on the slate of The Unison Company, which has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei. The other projects are genre films budgeted at $5m each for the Chinese market, but designed with international distribution and US remake potential in mind.
“Our company model is simple: Hollywood structure with Chinese content,” said Fan. “Ang Lee’s critical and global box office success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-written by James Schamus that grossed globally over $217m best exemplifies it while Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, remake of Infernal Affairs, demonstrates the high financial and critical remake value on a Chinese language film”.
The other projects are:
Make Or Break – modern-day romantic comedy about a matchmaker and divorce lawyer set in Beijing to be directed by Henry Chan (Scrubs, King Of Queens).
Retroactive – psychological time warp thriller scripted by Alina Lee (The Black Dog is Coming) under Lin’s supervision.
100 Days – romantic comedy/drama about a Shanghai businessman who returns to his home village in Fujian for his estranged mother’s funeral to be directed by Chen Daming (What Women Want).
With the exception of the Song of Justice project, Unison Co provides the investors of the original Chinese productions a first option to invest in the US remake production.
“Rather than having the Hollywood studios scouting the international festivals for a re-makeable property, the original Chinese production has already been designed for remake even before the Chinese script has been commenced” said Fan. “Best of all, the American studios and the Chinese investors share both financial and creative risk and reward, making it an organic and true Hollywood and Chinese coproduction”.
Lin is also currently writing a crime thriller remake in development with Atlas Entertainment and has optioned the English-language remake rights to Taiwanese box office hit Cape No. 7.