A new stash of Fu Manchu


South Africa-based Distant Horizon is planning to bring arch criminal mastermind Fu Manchu back to the big screen.

Distant Horizon president Anant Singh said the movie company's development slate includes a project centering on the 1960s screen criminal synonymous with actor Christopher Lee.

The project will be produced by Distant Horizon's Singh and Brian Cox along with veteran indie producer Harry Alan Towers and actress Maria Rohm.

Towers and Rohm were key figures in several of the popular '60s series of Fu Manchu projects starring Lee — "The Vengeance of Fu Manchu," "The Blood of Fu Manchu" and "The Castle of Fu Manchu" — and Singh previously has worked with Towers.

Singh, speaking from South Africa before boarding a plane Wednesday to Cannes, said in an interview that he aims to make the movie in China.

"We will reinvent Fu Manchu as an anti-hero who fits in with a more socially conscious world and that addresses the very complex multipolar world we all live in today," Singh said. "We have already begun to discuss Fu's rebirth with a number of exciting talents in Hong Kong and mainland China."

Singh added that the project will address "the xenophobia of the original material head-on with the possible collaboration with Chinese filmmakers in a bold effort to turn (creator) Sax Rohmer's underlying sentiments on its head."

Distant Horizon also is developing a slew of Japanese remakes. In preproduction is the remake of Hideo Nakata's "Don't Look Up," with Hong Kong filmmaker Fruit Chan behind the lens.

"Don't" is set in the decrepit film stages of a rundown studio and charts the unraveling sanity of a director and his crew when the spirit of a murdered actress from another era comes to possess a random piece of celluloid that is left behind. Singh plans to shoot in Romania in the fall; the project will be produced in association with Action 5.

Separately, director Rob Cohen is partnering with Distant Horizon as producer along with Singh and Cox on "Kite," a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime feature created by Yasuomi Umetsu. The film centers on a woman, who, after the murder of her parents, is taken off the streets by a crooked, Svengali-like detective who manipulates homeless children to do his dirty work. Mexico City-based commercial directors and brothers Javier and Jorge Aguilera will direct a screenplay by Joshua Rubin.