Chan's partners deny falling out

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HONG KONG -- Jackie Chan's longtime business partners are denying reports of a falling out that could destroy one of the longest partnerships in the Hong Kong film industry.

Hong Kong and Chinese media reported that Willie Chan and Solon So, partners of Jackie Chan at JC Group, have resigned from their respective posts of CEO and senior vp.

But So denied reports about a falling out, stating that the Chinese reports about the split are rumors. "Jackie Chan's business is expanding. Apart from the entertainment side, there are restaurants, cafes and the distribution deal with Segway cars. There will be a further expansion, and the company will be hiring more people," he told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. "Besides, Willie and I are producers of Jackie's new film 'The Shinjuku Incident,' now in production," he said.

Rumors are rife after reports in Hong Kong newspapers Oriental Daily and the Sun appeared Tuesday, saying that the kung fu star was splitting with So and Willie Chan, his manager and partner for more than 30 years.

The relationship reportedly cooled after the HK$20 million (US$2.56 million) cost row over the production of the Jackie Chan vehicle "New Police Story," of which Willie Chan was the producer, but So refuted it by calling the cost dispute "a publicity stunt."

This week the star of the "Rush Hour" series told Chinese media that his personal relationship with Willie Chan remains the same.

The longtime associates met in the early 1970s. Trained in martial arts since childhood, Jackie Chan impressed Hong Kong film producer Willie Chan with his stunt work in the Bruce Lee films "Enter the Dragon" and "Fist of Fury," and Willie Chan recommended him to director Lo Wei. Willie Chan has been the action man's manager ever since, and was crucial to the launch of his international career.

Chan, who was in Japan shooting "Shinjuku," declined to answer questions about the reported split when contacted by The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

Industry sources say the rumors about the split have been circulating for several weeks and that an official announcement was expected in early January.
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