Hong Kong-based Fortune Star has picked up the first third-party feature on which it will handle international sales.

The micro-studio, which is attached to News Corp's Star TV division, is to kick off sales at Mifed on China-set romantic drama Leaving Me Loving You (formerly Big City Trivia).

The film, which boasts an above average budget of $3m, also marks the first picture on which Hong Kong star Leon Lai (Fallen Angels, Bullets Of Love) takes a production credit.

Lai stars opposite Faye Wong in a tale of on-off love set in the surprisingly high-tech environment of modern Shanghai. Directed by Wilson Yip, the film is scripted by Derek Kwok Tsz Kin from a story by Lai and Yip.

It is produced and financed by Joseph Chan Sinn Gi, of talent manger and media investor Paciwood Music And Entertainment alongside Han Hong Fei and Gao Feng Jun. It qualifies as a full Chinese co-production, thanks to co-producers Tianjin Film Studio and China Film, enabling it to be released theatrically in China. Lai is billed as creative/production controller.

"Joe and Leon have achieved a very modern feel that gives it the international appeal we were looking for," said Fortune Star's chief executive Peter Poon. Leaving Me combines a high quality, technically accomplished look with a simple story and the three words that women want to hear; 'I am sorry'."

Fortune Star holds international rights outside greater China (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan). Chan says that the film has strong festival potential and will get its commercial premiere in Valentine's Day week (Feb 12, 2004) through Golden Scene in Hong Kong.

Fortune Star operates a large catalogue of rights including the 450-title Dickson M Poon library, which boasts many of the best films of Michelle Yeoh, and has Asian rights to the Golden Princess library, which is handled internationally by Media Asia. Having ventured into TV production Fortune Star attended its first Mipcom last month and is now close to unveiling its feature slate for 2004.