Start-up production and financing outfit Cinema Popular is unveiling four new projects at Cannes, including China’s first superhero movie.

Jung Ku - The Man From 18th Hell will be a $15-20m special effects-laden project, directed by the company’s co-founder Peter Ho-sun Chan. His credits include musical Perhaps Love and war epic The Warlords.

Based on Chinese mythology, the film is set in time when humans lived alongside gods and demons. The main character is a human who transforms himself into a demon-slayer to ensure that mankind keeps the upper hand.

Cinema Popular has also signed hot action director Dante Lam (Beast Stalker, The Sniper) to direct The Flying Guillotines, about an assassination squad trained to use Asia’s deadliest weapon.

Lam will start work on the $6-8m project in November after directing action thriller Out Of Leash for Hong Kong-based Media Asia. The film is scheduled for release next summer, while Jung Ku is being lined up for Christmas 2010.   

Cinema Popular is also developing Queen’s Road Ripper, a thriller which imagines that Jack the Ripper, who was never caught, continued his killing spree in Hong Kong. The project will be partly English-language as it features a Western actor in the role of the notorious serial killer.

Rounding out the slate is God Of Wealth, a contemporary comedy about the Chinese gods of wealth who find themselves stretched to their limits thanks to the global financial crisis.

We Distribution, the distribution arm of Cinema Popular, is handling sales on all four films, along with Cinema Popular’s debut production, Bodyguards And Assassins which is currently shooting in Shanghai.

Chan says the company’s debut slate is part of a push to introduce a wider range of genres to the China market. Although China’s box office is growing at around 30% per year, most of the big local films are martial arts epics.

“Foreign sales of Chinese movies have been in a rut and one of the reasons is the limited development of genres,” said Chan. “This slate represents the fact that more genres are now possible and could take the China market to new heights.”