Raymond Wong launches Pegasus

'All's Well Ends Well Too 2010' is firm's first project

HONG KONG -- Veteran producer and former Mandarin Films chairman Raymond Wong has set up Pegasus Films, a production outfit to showcase his son and "Ip Man" scriptwriter Edmond Wong's writing talents and hone his producing skills.

Wong junior's writing credits include comic book adaptation "Dragon Tiger Gate" (2006), comedy "All's Well Ends Well," period martial arts biopic "Ip Man" and its upcoming sequel "Ip Man 2," which will begin production in August in Shanghai.

Headed by the 30-year-old Wong, Pegasus's inaugural project will be "All's Well Ends Well Too 2010", the follow-up to the 2009 Chinese New Year hit, which will be written and produced by Edmond Wong and executive produced by Raymond Wong. Beijing-based Enlight Pictures will co-produce the HK$40 million ($5 million) comedy scheduled for Chinese New Year 2010.

"It's time to pass the torch to the next generation. Like me, Edmond began his film career in screenwriting," Raymond Wong said. His own writing credits include John Woo's "A Better Tomorrow" and the "Aces Go Places" franchise. "I co-founded Cinema City when I was 33; Edmond is now 30 and it's about time he heads his own company."

Raymond Wong, who set up stock market-listed Mandarin in 1990, resigned from as chairman earlier this year. He now has a slate of films which he aims to produce in partnership with a film fund being set up by Hong Kong fund management group First Vanguard Assets.

Edmond Wong was appointed executive director of Mandarin, since renamed China Mandarin, last year and resigned in February.

Formerly the majority shareholder of Mandarin, Raymond Wong now controls 10.5%. He remains a board director. Wong said he resigned the chairmanship in order to focus on producing, first with last year's "Ip Man", which grossed $15 million) in China and $3.5 million in Hong Kong during Christmas 2008, and then "All's Well Ends Well 2009." He is now producing "Ip Man 2" for China Mandarin with China's Henan Film Studio as the main Chinese co-producing partner.

"Henan province is the home of the Shaolin Temple, so Henan Film Studio is keen to be involved in the film that showcases martial arts," Wong said. The production budget is between $10 and $12 million.

"We will soon see a film that grosses over RMB1 billion ($146 million); there's enormous room for the film market in China to grow," Wong said. "Firstly, the standard of living is rising and a well-off middle class is emerging. Second, the number of screens is rapidly growing; there's an increase of 1.6 screens per day. Thirdly, it's estimated unofficially that over 95% of the audience in China watch pirated film products. If we can deliver RMB100 million films like 'Ip Man' with the 5%, if the number of screens catches up and we can convert a higher percentage of the audience to watch films in cinemas. Film grosses can rise exponentially," Wong said.

"We are entering a new golden age of cinema. When Chinese-made films become self-sustaining in its own market, as Hollywood blockbusters have in the U.S., production costs can rise and bigger films will be made. These will eventually expand the Chinese market to rival that of the U.S.," Wong said.

One of Pegasus's other projects is "Dragon Tiger Gate 2," which will begin production in 2010.
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