Two big-budget Hong Kong projects - Time Breaker, which is set to star Jackie Chan, and Hua Mulan, starring Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh - have been delayed, partly due to the impact that SARS has had on production in mainland China.
Media Asia's US$40m Time Breaker, which was scheduled to start shooting in September, has been put back until early next year, with the producers citing scheduling conflicts during the pre-production process as the major reason.
"SARS delayed a lot of our pre-production plans and we couldn't keep Jackie [Chan] waiting around," said Media Asia executive director and head of production John Chong. "It was decided he should do another film before this one."
Chan is expected to soon start work on an untitled police action film in Hong Kong and also has projects waiting for him in Hollywood including Rush Hour 3.
Time Breaker, about an adventurer who is transported back to a previous life when chasing after a valuable treasure, was scheduled to film in Indonesia, India and New Zealand before moving to China. Stanley Tong (Rumble In The Bronx) is attached to direct.
Meanwhile, Han Entertainment's Hua Mulan, which was also scheduled to start shooting on the mainland this summer, has been postponed until next February. According to producer and Han managing director Thomas Chung, two factors influenced the decision - a SARS-related overrun on Han's current production Silver Hawk, which also stars Yeoh, and the difficulty of obtaining production insurance following the SARS outbreak.
"Silver Hawk has only just wrapped and we had to offer Michelle some rest," says Chung. "It [Silver Hawk] was hard hit by the fact that we couldn't get SARS insurance and consequently there was no debt financing because we couldn't do the completion bond. This could still be a problem even though SARS has passed."
Peter Pau is attached to direct the US$30m film which is based on a famous Chinese folk song about a young girl who pretends to be a man to take her father's place in the army.