Principal photography is set to begin on May 2 in China on the action epic The Forbidden Kingdom featuring the first ever pairing of Jackie Chan and Jet Li.

Lionsgate will co-release with The Weinstein Company (TWC) in the US in summer 2008 and Lionsgate UK will release in the UK. TWC will distribute in Spain, France and Latin America and Relativity Media will handle foreign sales in remaining territories.

Rob Minkoff, whose credits include Stuart Little and The Lion King, will direct the story of a teenage Hong Kong cinema fanatic who travels back in time to free an imprisoned ancient warrior.

John Fusco wrote the screenplay based on the traditional Chinese legend of the Monkey King. Casey Silver of Casey Silver Productions is producing and Relativity Media's Ryan Kavanaugh is serving as executive producer. Relativity is financing the project.

Wo Ping, the renowned action choreographer Wo Ping who worked on The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, will oversee the fight sequences.

Lionsgate's president of theatrical films Tom Ortenberg, president of film production Mike Paseornek, and president of acquisitions and co-productions Peter Block will oversee for the studio.

'The Forbidden Kingdom has all the makings of a modern classic, and we are thrilled to fly its flag at Lionsgate,' the studio's Lionsgate chief executive officer Jon Feltheimer said.

'Casey Silver scored a real coup in bringing together two titans of martial arts, Jackie Chan and Jet Li, for their first onscreen pairing. He also gave them a project that is absolutely worthy of their talents, built upon a very savvy script that combines Chinese legend with the story of a modern, kung-fu obsessed teenager. And Rob Minkoff is the ideal director to handle the film's combination of heart, head and lightning-fast limbs.'

'We are very pleased to be partnering with Lionsgate again, and could not think of a better marketing and distribution platform for this film,' Kavanaugh said. 'We have truly enjoyed working with Casey on this project and know that his vision along with Rob Minkoff's will bring this adventure to life.'