John Woo cancels production of '1949'

Film was to star Song Hye-kyo, Chang Chen

BEIJING -- "Red Cliff" director John Woo has canceled his planned shoot of "1949," a romantic feature set in the first year of China's communist revolution, producer Terence Chang said Friday.

"It's off," Lion Rock head Chang told The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that, after 10 drafts of the script, the main investors in Taiwan had sold the same property by "Lust, Caution" scribe Wang Hui-ling to a Taiwanese TV channel.

"They sold the same script to be made into a miniseries for TV that would come out before our movie," Chang said. "This is unacceptable and we're very disappointed."

Chang said the Taiwanese investor, a company called ARTS -- run by Ling I-Jun and May Yu -- had a Taiwan government grant of NT$24 million ($725,856) to make Wang script's for TV with producer Virginia Liu.

Neither ARTS nor Liu could be contacted immediately in Taiwan.

Chang also said that China Film Group head Han Sanping -- also a backer of Woo's "1949" -- was now co-directing a movie set in the same year.

"Han's movie is totally different. It's the story of the rise of the communist party to power in China," Chang said.

China Film did not return phone calls Friday.

As recently as last week, Woo hinted at the collapse of the project at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong, telling THR: "I am planning for something else. I am going to make a war movie or a martial arts movie."

Meanwhile, the planned film's international sales agent, Fortissimo Films, still had the project in its catalog at the Hong Kong Filmart.

Chang said there is no script yet for either of Woo's proposed alternative projects.

On Friday, the management agency for one of the film's would-be stars, South Korean actress Song Hye-kyo, said that she had received a notice from Woo on Thursday telling her about "1949" and offering her a role in his next film.

Woo's "1949" was also to have starred Taiwan actor Chang Chen ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon").

Park Soo-mee in Seoul contributed to this report.
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