20th Century Fox has acquired international distribution rights outside China, France and North America to Zhang Yimou's latest film, Happy Times which is the first production from Edward R Pressman and Terrence Malick's Sunflower Productions. Sony Pictures Classics, which handled the last two films from Yimou (Not One Less, The Road Home) has rights in North America.

Fox had worldwide rights on Malick's last film as director The Thin Red Line but has never financed a Yimou picture before. Not One Less and The Road Home were majority financed by Sony Pictures Entertainment through its local production division Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia.

The film, currently in post-production, is produced by Pressman and Malick alongside Wang Wei, Zhao Yu, Zhou Ping and Zhang Weiping. It is being produced in conjunction with China's Guangxi Film Studio, Zhu Hai Guo Gi Enterprise Development Company and Beijing New Picture Distribution Company.

Written by Gui Zi, Happy Times is a comedy about a retired factory worker in a frustrated campaign for marriage who enlists the aid of his friends to execute a scheme centred around his intended's blind daughter. Zhao Benshan plays the lead role, with Dong Jie as the girl.

"Moving beyond the successful distribution of Fox films in China, we are now pleased to establish direct relations with the Chinese film-making community," said Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox, in a statement. "China has such tremendous locations, such a pool of talent, improving facilities and continuously growing audiences that we knew this kind of production opportunity was inevitable. Our involvement with Happy Times will serve as a great learning experience and model for future efforts."