Warner Bros is making its first foray into Chinese-language film production with an adaptation of best-selling illustrated love story, Turn Left, Turn Right, to be written and directed by one of Hong Kong's most successful filmmaking teams - Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai.
Japanese heartthrob Takeshi Kaneshiro will star in the film along with Hong Kong actress Gigi Leung. The pair previously starred together in Sylvia Chang's romantic drama Tempting Heart while Kaneshiro has credits including Wong Kar-wai's Fallen Angels and Chungking Express.
Production on the film is scheduled to start in Taiwan on December 26 and will continue in Hong Kong and mainland China. To's production outfit Milkyway Image and Singapore's Raintree Pictures will co-produce.
Turn Left, Turn Right - written and illustrated by Taiwanese author and artist Jimmy Liao - is the tale of a lonely man and woman who live in the same apartment block, but never meet there because one always turns left and the other right when they leave the building. Eventually they meet in a park, but bad luck and meddling acquaintances conspire to keep them apart.
To has produced a string of hits in Hong Kong since launching Milkyway six years ago, including Needing You, Love On A Diet and, more recently, My Left Eye Sees Ghosts. Turn Left, Turn Right marks the first time the producer-director has worked with a US studio.
Announcing the deal, Warner executive vice president Richard Fox said: "It is an honour to be working with such esteemed talents as Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai. We've long been fans of their work and feel this film, which combines a property embraced by readers throughout Asia with an excellent cast and extremely talented directors with a passion for the material, is the perfect entry into China's local-language film marketplace."
To said: "We're excited to be working with Warner Bros Pictures and are confident this collaboration will reinvigorate the Chinese film market and open up new possibilities for the Chinese film industry."
Warner Bros is the second US studio to enter Chinese-language film production following Sony Pictures Entertainment which has produced hits such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and most recently Taiwanese thriller Double Vision through its Hong Kong-based production arm, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia.
Warner is also involved in Chinese-language TV production through a joint venture with two mainland companies - Century Hero and Hainan White Horse Advertising Media Co - and Hong Kong's Salon Films to co-produce 10 Mandarin-language television movies. The studio also produces French and Italian language films and is planning to launch a Spanish-language production outfit at the beginning of next year.