EXCLUSIVE: China’s Desen International Media has brought on board top VFX houses including Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop for its upcoming $27m 3D fantasy adventure.

Zhong Kui: Snow Girl And The Dark Crystal is currently shooting in China with acclaimed Hong Kong DoP Peter Pau serving as producer, DoP and VFX director on the film.

The cast is headed by Chen Kun, Li Bingbing, Winston Chao, Bao Beier, Yang Zishan and Jike Junyi. Executive producer is Desen’s Ann An.

“This will be a unique, oriental-style visual feast that will raise the bar in terms of story-telling, performances, photography and VFX,” said Pau, who is working with 3D stereographer Vincent E. Toto (Dredd) and a 3ality TS5 rig.

Zhao Tianyu (The Law Of Attraction) is directing, while Guo Junli (Gone With The Bullets) headed the screenplay team.

The story is based on legendary Tang Dynasty hero Zhong Kui who struggles between his desire to bring justice to mankind and his love for a seductive demoness.  

Weta Workshop is providing character and scenery design for the film, while its sister company Park Road Post works on compositing.

The project is one of the first Chinese features to use full performance capture, which will be handled by leading Korean VFX house Macrograph (Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons).

Other behind-the-scenes talent working on the film includes action choreographer Jacky Yeung (The Bride With White Hair), production designer Kenneth Mak (Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon), costume designer Shirley Chan (The Forbidden Kingdom) and editor David Wu (Snow Queen).

The producers are currently in talks with studios for international distribution of the project, which is scheduled for release on Feb 19, 2015.

While most of the production is taking place in Zhejiang province, some scenes will also be shot in Xinjiang and Guizhou. Production is scheduled to wrap in mid-May.

Pau and An previously worked together on 2011 fantasy romance Lee’s Adventure, starring Jaycee Chan and directed by Frant Gwo and Yang Li, which An produced with Pau serving as DoP.