James Wilson and Cheryl Wheeler, who have produced Michael Baumgarten’s upcoming anti-bullying film The Martial Arts Kid through their Traditionz Entertainment, will release the film theatrically next month, with plans to turn Traditionz into a new indie distributor specializing in martial arts movies.
Kid will open on Sept. 18 in New York and Los Angeles, before expanding to other top markets, said Traditionz CEO Wilson, who then wants to go on to distribute other movies in the genre through his company.
Directed and co-written by Baumgarten, the movie stars Jansen Panettiere as a teen, recently moved to Florida, who learns martial arts from his aunt and uncle to protect himself. The uncle and aunt are played by kickboxing champion Don “The Dragon” Wilson — who is also James Wilson’s brother — and martial arts black-belt holder Cynthia Rothrock.
Adam W. Marsh co-wrote the film, which was produced by James Wilson and Wheeler, who is the president of Traditionz. James Wilson is himself a former kickboxing promoter, and Wheeler a former kickboxing champion as well as a Hollywood stuntwoman with more than 30 years of experience. Dr. Robert Goldman and Maurice Elmalem are the executive producers.
“My family has always been involved in martial arts and, by extension, martial arts films,” Wilson said of his intentions to move into theatrical distribution with the new film. “I always felt I had the pulse of what was happening within that community, but I was surprised and even astounded that while we were in production and postproduction on The Martial Arts Kid, I learned of so many other martial arts films being produced — and seemingly none of them had distribution. That’s when we realized we needed to start a company to release these movies, a genre that has untold legions of fans and yet few opportunities for them to see these sort of films.”