Shanghai Film Fest: Hollywood-China Deals in Focus

9:32 PM PST 06/15/2014 by Clifford Coonan
Associated Press
Nicole Kidman in Armani Prive

U.S.-China link-ups form the backdrop to the 17th Shanghai International Film Festival.

Growing links between Hollywood and China were in focus as the Shanghai Film Festival opened over the weekend, with Nicole Kidman, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Hugh Grant, John Cusack and Gong Li adding glamor and a fistful of deals were announced.

As around 400 film celebrities from China and overseas gathered in the country’s biggest city, there were deals going on between Hollywood and China behind the scenes.

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Cusack and Adrien Brody were unveiled as cast members in the most expensive Chinese-language movie ever to go into production, Jackie Chan's $65 million historical action movie, Dragon Blade.

The project has already finished the first section of shooting at Hengdian Studios and will soon start shooting on location in Dunjuang and Aksai in the Gobi desert.

Kidman’s Grace of Monaco is showing at the festival.

Relativity Media said is it was forming a joint partnership with China’s third biggest broadcaster, Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp, to develop, co-finance co-produce and distribute film and TV productions in China.

And Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Warner Bros. will team up to co-finance and co-produce Desen International Media’s 3D Chinese fantasy film Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal.

The film is now in production and is also set to open on Chinese New Year next year.

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The film is directed by Zhao Tianyu (The Law of Attraction, Deadly Delicious) and stars Chen Kun (The Painted Skin, The Painted Skin 2, Bends) and Li Bingbing, who appeared in Detective Dee and Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The festival opened with the restored classic Two Stage Sisters, a film from 1964 about two actresses in pre-revolutionary China, and it will close with Transformers: Age of Extinction, which was partly shot in Hong Kong.

Leading industryites attended a film financing forum at the festival, including Bona CEO Yu Dong; Liu Chunning, CEO of Alibaba Digital Media Group; China Lion CEO Jiang Yanming; and Ren Zhonglun, president of Shanghai Film Group.

A social highlight was the American Film Night party, co-sponsored by the Motion Picture Association and Shanghai Tang, at the fashion company’s flagship store in the city, where MPA’s Asia-Pacific chief Mike Ellis spoke of the growing closeness between Hollywood and China.

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Grant brings his new romantic movie The Rewrite, to the festival, and he pleased fans when he said “I Love Shanghai” in Shanghai dialect.

Kidman’s fishtail dress caused a stir as she walked the red carpet.

“I love taking risks,” said Kidman. “As an actor, my career is always about pushing myself and pushing the boundaries. … I also like Chinese women; maybe one day I could play a Chinese woman," she quipped.

Kidman received an outstanding contribution award from Grant and John Woo at the opening ceremony, while artist Qin Yi presented Jiang Wen with the Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Film Award.

This year's jury panel for the Golden Goblet award is headed by mainland actress Gong Li, who is also the festival's first female jury president.

Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Tony LeungNing Hao, Li Bingbing and Gao Yuanyuan were among the local talent attending.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan

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