CJ E&M has announced Korea-China co-production Once Again, 20’s (working title), a Chinese-language film based on hit Korean comedy Miss Granny.

Taiwanese director Leste Chen, whose credits include The Heirloom and The Great Hypnotist, will direct star Yang Zishan from the mainland China hit So Young with veteran actress Gua Ah Leh (Eat, Drink, Man, Woman) and actor Bolin Chen.

The film starts shooting next month in China and is due for release this winter.

South Korea’s CJ E&M and China’s Beijing Century Media Co., Ltd. are producing and investing, while C2M, Huace Media and Media Asia are co-financing.

The original Miss Granny took $62m at the local box office according to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC). Starring Shim Eun-kyung, the Korean film directed by Hwang Dong-hyeuk features a cranky old granny who is magically transformed into her 20-year-old self and joins her grandson’s band.

Kiyun Lee, senior manager of CJ E&M’s Chinese Film Investment and Distribution Team, said: “Once Again, 20’s is a romantic comedy with fantasy material that is differentiated from what has so far been seen in the China market. It takes Miss Granny as its motif but will be newly adapted and directed to fit Chinese audiences’ tastes.

“A talented director and actors have been cast and as much as the development capabilities and production infrastructure of Korea and China have been combined, we plan to give full support in order to make a successful precedent in the China market.”

CJ global initiative

The project is the third of CJ’s Chinese-language co-productions targeting the mainland market. The first, A Wedding Invitation, took CNY200m ($32m) at the Chinese box office last year.

Previously announced The Peaceful Island, directed by Korean Chang Yoon-hyun with Chinese stars Stanley Huang, Leon Dai and Jiao Yun Yan, began shooting this March in China and is due out later this year. C2M, Huace Media and Media Asia are also involved.

Lee added that CJ plans to continue such international local-language co-productions: “Of the ways to launch Korean films in the global market, international co-production projects rather than simple Korean film exports have much more potential to succeed locally.

“CJ E&M is planning to develop and produce diverse co-production projects not only in China but also in Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries where the market growth potential is high.”