The Walt Disney Company is gearing up to produce Mandarin-language films for the Greater China market with plans to produce three titles a year starting 2011.
The first project to go among the seven to eight in development is a comedy tentatively titled Becoming A Hero, an adaptation of Taiwanese novelist Gidden Ko’s novel Achoo. A combination of Superbad and Kick-Ass, the film tells of a computer nerd dreaming of becoming a superhero. Hong Kong director Peter Ho-sun Chan is to produce the film while the director is yet to be confirmed, according to Peter Tsi, Disney’s vice president, Theatrical Creative, Greater China.
Disney has now acquired the film rights to the book and plan to start shooting by the end of 2011.
“What we have been working on are 100% Chinese-language films,” said Tsi, stressing that Disney’s Chinese productions will not be merely Chinese remakes of Disney titles. Tsi has been writer and producer for six Hong Kong films and previously served as executive director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF).
Disney’s Beijing office has now hired seven writers from mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong to develop stories and Tsi has been looking for talent all over the Chinese-speaking world who fit well with the projects.
“Each project is developed by Disney and we make sure each of them fits with the Disney’s brand values such as love and hope,” Tsi said.
Also in development include an action film to be directed by Benny Chen (Shaolin, New Police Story), a drama by Chi Ngai Lee (Sleepless Town, Dance Subaru), a comedy to be directed by Wong Jing and a romantic comedy to be directed by Wai Man Yip (Lost in Journey, Bruce Lee My Brother).
Tsi said Disney may co-produce some of the projects with Chinese companies but Disney will take charge of development of all projects.
Disney has previously produced The Secret of the Magic Gourd (2007), Trail of the Panda (2009) and the Chinese-language High School Musical (2010). Starting from early 2010, Disney set up its Beijing office and began to fully develop Chinese language films.
Meanwhile, Shanghai Municipal City has recently announced the approved development plan for Shanghai Disneyland, which is scheduled to be completed by 2014.