A new film by Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau is set to head the slate of Han Entertainment, the new multi-media company established by Thomas Chung, the colourful former head of Media Asia, and Michelle Yeoh.
The film, Hua Mulan, is currently in advanced development and is written by Huang Wei Ling, co-screenwriter on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Described by Chung as "Braveheart meets Ran", Hua Mulan is the story of the life of the legendary female warrior who inspired Disney's animated picture Mulan. The budget is likely to be in excess of $25m and location scouting begin in earnest after completion of Han's first film, The Touch, which Pau is directing.
Han has bought out Media Asia's share of Mythical Films, the production outfit jointly owned by Michelle Yeoh and Media Asia, including Media Asia's investment in The Touch. Mythical will now become the mainstay of Han Productions.
The company, which now benefits from a one-year first-look deal with Miramax, is also developing a "Scream-like" horror picture which could shoot either in English or a mixture of languages.
The Touch, which this week moves into studios in Beijing, having completed several weeks of exteriors and location work, was previously sold to Miramax for North and South America, the UK, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. M6 has French rights and Chung said that he is now close to a deal in Germany. The $18.5m circus fantasy is now set up as a co-production between Han, Taiwan's Pandasia and China's Tianjan Studios, which will allow it to qualify as a Chinese picture.
Speaking from the set and nursing some slight injuries sustained during the action sequences, Yeoh told Screen International: "We are on course to wrap the picture on Jan 15 as scheduled. We did so much pre-production that we have been extremely organised and the shoot so far has been very good."
Feature production, sales and distribution, however, is only one of four strands Chung is developing at Han, which starts life with start-up capital of some $10m. He will also be launching into production for TV, talent management and new media investment.
"There is a great pool of talent in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan which has the potential to become the Michelle Yeoh, Jet Li and Chow Yun-fats of tomorrow," said Chung. One early signing is Brandon Chang, who stars in The Touch as Yeoh's brother.
The new media division is expected to get into gear in the New Year, covering cover film, production and investment and be "technical-driven investments."
Another division Han China, will look for investment opportunities in mainland China. "China is set to become a different place post-WTO and post Olympics. Everything we do from now on is capable of having a Chinese dimension," said Chung. "For now Han is an investment vehicle which belongs to myself and Michelle. But we can foresee a time when a Chinese investor will become appropriate."