Paula Wagner, An Ann, Naomi Foner Team Up For Flying Tigers WW2 Epic
Leading Chinese producer An Ann will team up with Paula Wagner, Tom Cruise’s former production partner, and screenwriter Naomi Foner to make a movie based on the WW2 ‘Flying Tigers’ airmen.
An, who is president of Desen International Media, said the budget for Moon Flower of Flying Tigers would be between $40 million and $50 million, with A-list Chinese and Hollywood stars, and it would be directed by a famous Hollywood director.
“I am looking for a Hollywood director who is interested in that period of history to work with us. This film will be a co-production,” An told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Besides our own capital, there are also investments from America. Paula Wagner and I will produce this film together,” she said, adding that she hoped the movie would be a Sino-U.S. co-production. Among Desen’s credits are Tiny Times and Ip Man 2.
The film is based on the novel of the same name and it tells the the story of Rita Wong, a Chinese nurse who cared for injured US airmen from the group known as the Flying Tigers during World War Two.
Known in Chinese as Huang Huanxiao, Wong escaped Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded in 1941 to join the Flying Tigers, which was the nickname for the American Volunteer Group that formed a fighter group that trained in China and defended the Burma supply line to China over the Himalayas known as the "Hump" before the United States entered the war in 1941.
The airmen, whose planes were painted with shark teeth, were known in China as "Fei Hu" for their courage. Flying Tigers became a movie starring John Wayne in 1942.
Wong died aged 95 in 2007 and her story is truly epic, as she traversed the war-torn country before pitching up to help the airmen. Flying under General Claire Lee Chennault, the Flying Tigers were originally part of the Chinese Air Force, and then later absorbed into the U.S. 14 th Air Force.
Wagner, who produced the Mission:Impossible series with Cruise, and Foner traveled with An together to Yunnan province in the southwest of China to research the movie, and they hoped that lensing could begin later this year or early next year.
“In recent years, the media has reported how John Woo, Tom Cruise and I have all been preparing films about the Flying Tigers, so Chinese audiences are not unfamiliar with the theme,” said An.
“However, as regards the detail of the film itself, there are not too many domestic news reports. It means that people have a limited knowledge and are hugely curious about the war, the heroes, about love on the battlefield,” she said.
“We will reflect that part of history, the cruelty of war, the relationships between human beings, weakness and the sublimation of human nature,” said An.
Although casting hadn’t begun, one of the stars being mentioned is Foner's son Jake Gyllenhaal.
“The focus of this film is the war and love. We will balance the action and romance. We will interpret the touching love story in that war in a modern perspective and with modern technology. Love is about two loving hearts making sacrifices and contributions that are noble and beautiful,” she said.
The Flying Tigers story has attracted a lot of interest over the years but except for a handful of other propaganda movies during WW2 there have been no significant projects since John Wayne’s.
John Woo says he will start production on a two-part movie-TV miniseries about the Flying Tigers after he finishes work on his latest epic, The Crossing.