EXCLUSIVE: Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media Corporation has boarded the Chinese remake of Italian comedies Men Vs Women and Women Vs Men and will produce with Cai Gongming’s Road Pictures and Italian filmmaker Cristiano Bortone.

Huayi Brothers will also distribute the project, which is currently being scripted and is expected to start shooting before the end of the year. The remake is in the process of attaching a director and is expecting to draw an ensemble cast of major Chinese stars.

Cai and Bortone are combining episodes from the two original films to make one movie to start with, but envisage the concept as a possible franchise under the title Gender Wars. “The story has characters of different ages and backgrounds, so it will appeal to all audience age groups,” said Cai. “It also gives us an opportunity to look at changing gender identity roles in Chinese society.”

Fausto Brizzi’s original films, released in Italy in 2010 and 2011, featured four intertwining stories exploring the battle of the sexes. Bortone of Italy’s Orisa Produzioni negotiated the acquisition of Chinese-language remake rights with Fulvio Lucisano of Italian International Film.

The project is one of a slate of prouctions that Cai and Bortone are developing, some aimed at Chinese and others at international audiences, including projects which tap into the Chinese audience’s current fascination with overseas locations.

Road Pictures’ next production is Bortone’s Coffee, comprising three intertwining stories set in Rome, London and Beijing, which will star Italian actress Miriam Dalmazio (Sole A Catinelle) and Iranian actor Babak Karimi (A Separation). The producers are also in talks with Chinese actor Qin Hao (Blind Massage) and a rising UK star.

A co-production between Road Pictures, Bortone’s Orisa and the UK’s Ipso Facto Films, Coffee could be one of the first films to be made under the Italy-China co-production treaty. Bortone will direct and co-scripted with Annalaura Ciervo, Matthew Thompson, Shi Minghua and Shi Minghui.

Before establishing Road Pictures last year, Cai was vice president of Mercedes-Benz in China and also worked in the auto industry in Germany for several years. Bortone is a director and producer, who most recently produced Belgian director Stijn Coninx’s Marina. He also teaches at Beijing Film Academy.