John Woo and Terence Chang's Lion Rock Productions is inadvanced negotiations with Sony Pictures for worldwide rights outside Japanand Taiwan for Woo's China-set blockbuster The Battle Of Red Cliff.

Japanese rights have already been sold to Rentrack, whichwill team up with a studio for theatrical, and CMC Entertainment Group inTaiwan. CMC will, according to Chang, "probably" partner with 20thCentury Fox for Taiwan.

Pending the conclusion of talks, Sony willproduce the $50 million Red Cliff - the largest and most expensive filmin China's history - with Lion Rock, China's Asian Union Film and China Film.Chang and Woo are now looking at a possible start date of summer 2006.

Chow Yun-fat is set to star in Red Cliff, confirmedChang, with the female lead - billed as "the most beautiful woman in China," asyet uncast. Moving away from the recent glut of mainland martial arts films, RedCliff is a period Ran-style actioner set in China circa 200 AD.

China-born Woo's plans to bring a team of LA talent, fromassistant directors to art department and visual effects, to the Shanghai shoothave seen the budget soar from $36 million to $50m. "They [Sony] has themost experience in this area," said Chang of the studio behind theinternational marketing success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and KungFu Hustle. "And they didn't flinch when I talked about the budget."

Woo was first set to direct the remake of Jean PierreMelville's Red Circle for Paramount, but "it's moving very slowly" saidChang, "and we're thinking of moving Red Cliff up" to summer 2006.

Lion Rock Productions had a two-year first-look deal withParamount which expired earlier this year; with Woo in China for Red Cliffand another, as yet un-named noir thriller to follow on, and Chang set toproduce low-budget ($5m) Thai actioner Detour, Chang confirmed thattheir sights will be set in an easterly direction for the immediate future.