'Ninja Turtles' Exec Producer Boards 'Wuxia Knight' (Cannes)

3:00 PM PST 05/10/2011 by Stuart Kemp

Film aims to be the first in a franchise of movies based on the Wu Xia genre which involves martial arts, magic and flying.

Napoleon Smith, the exec producer of Michael Bay’s $140 million Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, has come aboard Wuxia Knight, a $25 million budgeted youth-oriented martial arts movie to be directed by Andy Cheng and former Ninja Turtle star Ernie Reyes.

Reyes and Cheng, most recently the action team on Dwayne Johnson starrer The Rundown, will co-direct Wuxia Knight with the aim of it becoming the first in a franchise of U.S. made Wu Xia genre movies.

Wuxia Knight centers on a pair of high-flying detectives in a battle against a super-villain on a quest to take over a mystical martial arts kingdom in Chinatown.

The script is written by Cody Yarbrough, who recently signed with agent Jeff Aghassi and it plans to shoot in San Francisco in the fall.

Reyes’ production banner Smasher Entertainment and Birch Tree Entertainment’s Art Birzneck partnered in November last year to produce a slate of youth-oriented martial arts films targeted at the teen and twentysomething audience.

Birzneck, who lands in Cannes to rep Wuxia Knight to buyers here, says the plan is to put the first movie into production so it’s theatrical rollout is ready to piggy back on the inevitable maelstrom of publicity swirling around the projected 2012 release of Bay’s Turtle reboot.

Casting and a director are being firmed up, Birzneck told The Hollywood Reporter. “The Wuxia genre is becoming popular in the U.S. and interationally,” Birzneck said.

During this year’s Festival de Cannes, Peter Ho-Sun Chan’s Wu Xia is due to unspool Friday in a midnight Out of Competition slot.

The Wu Xia genre combines martial arts, magic and flying about a lot.

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