Enlight spends $30 mil on 40 pics

Chan leads new effort to cash in on growing China boxoffice

More Shanghai festival news

BEIJING -- Hong Kong director Gordon Chan will lead Enlight Pictures, as newly appointed chief consultant, in a new 40-picture slate with initial funding of $30 million loaned by Bank of Beijing.

The maker of "Painted Skin" joined Enlight at a ceremony here last week in the run-up to the ongoing Shanghai International Film Festival. Enlight was promoting its plans to expand from its traditional distributor's role into production to serve China's rapidly growing moviegoing audience, a spokeswoman for the Beijing-based company confirmed by phone Thursday.

Chan is one of many Hong Kong talents now heading north to work in production with Shanghai and Beijing companies such as Enlight, Poly Bona and the Shanghai Film Group.

Chan's first picture for Enlight will be the $15 million period fantasy  "Strange Tales of Liao Zhai," based on a collection of classical Chinese stories, on which "Skin" was also loosely based.  He's now writing the script and beginning casting.

Chan also will produce an action biopic of folk hero Chen Zhen, starring Donnie Yen, directed by Andrew Lam and produced by Bill Kong. He also will develop the martial arts novel "Four Famous Detectives" for the screen, with plans to direct the first film in a probable series starting next year.

Also joining Enlight is Dante Lam -- another Hong Kong director -- for the $9 million action film "Arrow." He also will co-produce a sequel to Chinese New Year hit comedy "All’s Well That Ends Well 2010" with Hong Kong’s Mandarin Films.

Enlight and another Hong Kong company, Universe Films, are currently working on director Benny Chan’s sci-fi action film "City Under Siege."

As a distributor, Enlight plans to release the Chinese-language animated feature "Magic Soldier and Junior General," in time for the Chinese National Day holiday on Oct. 1. It has also picked up China rights to "Astro Boy," the animated feature from Summit Entertainment, the sales company serving Hong Kong production house Imagi Entertainment, for an Oct. 23 day-and-date release.

Enlight Pictures' parent, Enlight Media, has received a 200 million yuan ($30 million) Bank of Beijing loan to supplement the $15 million it got from the bank last year. Enlight Pictures CEO Zhang Zhao told popular Web portal Sina.com the loan will be used for film production only, he said.

Enlight Media's founder and president Wang Changtian said last week he hoped the company would earn $45 million at the boxoffice in 2010, up from $15 million in 2008. Enlight's "Happy Family," by director Huang Baimin, was its biggest film investment in 2008.

Also on Enlight's 2009 slate are director Benny Chan's science fiction action film "Entire City on Red Alert," now shooting in Hong Kong with actresses Shu Qi and Zhang Jingchu. It is being produced by Stephen Lam.
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