Taking over last week as chief executive of Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG) Carl Chang has set out a twin track strategy stressing regional Asian film-making and smaller Hong Kong productions.
"We will be making big-budget action pictures, but I cannot promise to greenlight another Highbinders inside the next six months," said Chang. "But we will be making a larger number of lower budget pictures for the Chinese-speaking markets [Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Malaysia and Singapore]."
Chang takes over as CEO from top-ranked film-director Gordon Chan who is a long-time friend and invited him to join. Chan originally planned to scale back his own film-making when EMG was started, but last year moved back into the directing chair when the big-budget Jackie Chan vehicle Highbinders underwent some teething troubles.
Chang, who has been consulting for EMG since January, has little direct film business but is rated as one of the region's top media business managers. He headed commercial Hong Kong broadcaster Metro Radio and was founder of rare internet success Tom.com.
Speaking from Thailand, Gordon Chan told Screen International: "Having Carl as CEO helps me to be more creative. [EMG president] Albert Yeung and I though it would be a waste of my talents if managing the company did not give me the opportunity to direct." Having shot the $35m-plus Highbinders, he is already readying two other big budget ction flicks Swordbearer and an adaptation of Chinese classic The Art Of War. "Carl's real strength is building media corporations," said Chan.
Chang foresees EMG moving closer to a studio model surrounded by a collection of orbiting satellite producers with different degrees of independence. These should deliver six-to eight pictures a year in the $1m budget region.
Under the auspices of creative head Ip Kwong Kim, EMG is already moving ahead with Twins Effect, a Buffy The Vampire Slayer-style picture to be directed from June by Dante Lam. It stars white hot singing phenomena Twins. EMG has also struck a three picture deal with Singing Horse Productions, a company owned jointly by director Joe Ma and talent manager International Pacific Artists. This will deliver two films directed by Ma and a third he will produce.
Other pictures already being developed include a comic thriller Horror Hotline and Half Soul (working title), an opera set ghost drama.