Taiwan's CMC Entertainment has boarded Chen Kaige's upcoming biopic of Chinese opera singer Mei Lanfang as co-producer alongside China Film Group.

Leon Lai and Zhang Ziyi are being lined up to star in the $15m film which is tentatively scheduled to start shooting in July.

Mei, who was famous for playing women on stage, provided inspiration for Chen's award-winning Farewell My Concubine which shared the Palme d'Or with The Piano in 1993. Chen has said that his new take on the historical figure will focus on Mei's complex personality against the turbulent political backdrop of the era. It has yet to be decided who is handling international sales on the film.

Meanwhile, CMC has also concluded a slew of Asian deals on the John Woo-produced period thriller Blood Brothers. The film, which is scheduled for release in Chinese-speaking territories in mid-August, has been sold to South Korea's M&FC, Thailand's Rose Media and Indonesia's PT Teguh Baki Mandari. It was previously sold to China's Huayi Brothers, Hong Kong's Golden Scene and Innoform Media for Singapore and Malaysia. Fortissimo Films is handling sales outside Asia on the film.

CMC is also selling Taiwanese director Chang Tso-chi's highly-anticipated but long-gestating Butterfly which was finally able to finish shooting when CMC boarded the project in March. The film, about a young gangster, is currently in post-production.