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Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre hosted a packed party on Wednesday morning to commemorate it’s 88th birthday, marking the milestone with a special handprint ceremony to honor filmmaker Justin Lin and Chinese superstars Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming.
Feted by such an iconic event proved to be very “surreal” for Lin, who admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he was taking a few hours off from preproduction duties in Vancouver on Star Trek 3, which he is directing. “I’m just getting started as a filmmaker, so to get this call — it’s a great moment to take the morning and enjoy it with good friends and family,” Lin said. “I literally flew down from Star Trek for this and I have to get back to work right after.”
Although he said he’s “just getting started,” Lin’s resume tells a different story, with films that have grossed north of $2 billion thanks to helming duties on four films from the Fast & Furious franchise. Stars Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster were on hand to pay tribute to Lin along with another longtime pal, MC Hammer.
Conditions outside the theatre were in line with L.A.’s notorious “June gloom” — gray skies and lingering precipitation. A few minutes after 10 a.m., one of the reps outside the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX could be overheard apologizing for the rain to a group of well-dressed guests. “It has never rained in 88 years of handprint ceremonies,” the man said in an earnest tone. “And this isn’t really rain, more like drizzle.”
He was right, but the drizzle was enough to sound the alarms as organizers scrambled to purchase umbrellas from a vendor nearby to keep VIP guests dry, as other staffers hurried to dry the rows of white folding chairs in front of the podium and place wood covers over the cement prior to the 11 a.m. start of the ceremony.
Once festivities were underway, Diesel and Hammer took turns at the mic, as did Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming. The latter two star in a new film, out on June 26 in China, titled Hollywood Adventures. Lin is a producer on the Timothy Kendall-directed pic, along with Troy Craig Poon, and Anne Clements.
Bruno Wu — a Beijing-based entrepreneur and investor who serves as the founder and chairman of Sun Seven Stars Media Group — backed the $30 million pic and told THR that Wednesday was a day to celebrate Lin and the actors. “They’ve worked many years very hard to earn what they get to do today,” Wu said. “It’s a great honor, a lifetime memory and accomplishment for them.”
China is the world’s second-biggest film market and one that U.S. distributors are continually trying to crack. Asked for his advice on how to do so, Wu said: “For American movies, if you can appeal to a younger demographic, they do tremendously well in China. But now, for Hollywood studios, it’s time to start working on localizing the content — have indigenous, local elements from China incorporated into the movies. You should do that without sacrificing the creative integrities of the movies.”
As for Lin, he’s focused on not sacrificing his personal integrity as he shifts from one major franchise to another. “You want to have pressure and tell stories that you find a real reason to tell, aside from any business reason. If business is your only reason, that always goes badly,” he said. “For me, when I was growing up, everybody I knew was a Star Wars kid. My parents had a fish and chips restaurant, and we were a working-class family, so they didn’t get home until 10 p.m. I grew up, from ages 8 to 18, watching reruns of Star Trek with my dad and my mom when they got home from work. I’m tapping back into those childhood memories, and that’s the reason for (doing this). I’m excited for this amazing crew and amazing cast.”
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