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Big plans are in store for the newly established Starry Entertainment, an ambitious studio headquartered in Shenzhen with offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. The company has invested $30 million to develop a varied slate of content including six films, three web series, two animated features and a variety show. In the mix is yet another adaptation of the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West — this time with input from Hollywood.
Headed by company COO and CEO of the Hong Kong office Jon Chiew, formerly of Huace Media, with production teams in Beijing and Malaysia, the studio is producing content for the Chinese and international markets. It is partnering with Los Angeles-based distribution outfit Crimson Forest for international releases.
On Journey to the West, Chiew promises the company’s animated version, A Hero’s Journey to the West, will be easily understood by Western audiences. The studio has hired Hollywood writer James Felder (TV’s Ultimate Spider-Man) for a fresh take of the oft-told Chinese tale. The animated feature, expected to cost $30 million, is being helmed by former Disney animator Chris Bradley (Mulan) and Marvel Studio character designer Walter Antonio McDaniel.
“The film will be an interpretation of the Journey to the West legend from a Westerner’s point of view, and the writer has found things we have missed,” Jon Chiew told THR. The studio is in negotiation with an A-list Hollywood cast as voice talent for the English version. The film is scheduled for release during Chinese New Year 2019.
The studio is also making Asia’s answer to The Expendables, called Asia Pacific Elimination Service (APES), about a group of retired action film heroes. Thai superstar Tony Jaa, Keanu Reeves’s martial arts teacher Tiger Chen, and Chinese-American actor David Wu are attached to the $12 million project, to be shot in Southeast Asia.
Following in the footsteps of the $202 million-grossing Chinese blockbuster Goodbye Mr. Loser (2015), The Inheritance will re-team directing duo Yan Fei and Peng Damo, as well as leading man Shen Teng. The $13 million comedy will begin filming in October 2017 for a summer 2018 release. And the company is prepping An Unfinished Fairy Tale, the directorial debut of Malaysian singer-songwriter Michael Wong, whose biggest hit was called “Fairy Tale.” Production of the $10 million special effects-heavy romantic sci-fi drama will commence in June.
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