AFM 2012: Hong Kong Sales Reps Mining the Past

FILM: Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan (WME, Bloom Hergott) is teaming with Beijing-based Talent International Media Group to produce and star in an English-language action comedy written by Jay Longino.

Sellers strike gold as they hawk remastered classics, obscure gems and sexploitation films.

While Hong Kong sales reps busy themselves trading their current and future output, the past -- in the form of remastered versions of catalog titles -- has proved an equally profitable sideline for them at the AFM this year.

Media Asia, for example, has been doing brisk business with the 1992 film Twin Dragons, an action comedy with Jackie Chan playing a pair of very different siblings who had their identities swapped in mistake.

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Ricky Tse, Media Asia’s head of distribution and sales, said he’s “surprised” by the enthusiasm toward the 20-year-old title. “Maybe it’s Jackie’s appeal,” he said, adding that the company began negotiations at Cannes.

Television rights deals already have been struck for France, Russia and Turkey, Tse said, and a handful of Japanese parties have shown interest. The company also has confirmed contractual details with a mainland China distributor.

“Buyers have renewed their licenses for old films before, but as many TV stations are in HD mode, they need a copy of the film with improved image quality,” he said.

While Tse said the Twin Dragons pitch is more like a sideline on Media Asia’s slate -- its major projects at AFM are Peter Chan’s martial arts epic The Guillotines, Johnnie To’s suspense comedy Blind Detective and the all-out international caper Switch -- another Hong Kong company, Star Alliance, considers its catalog sales as an important part of its work at the market.

Making its debut at the market, Star Alliance -- a subsidiary of a mainland company of the same name -- has brought 20 digitally remastered films and 50 HD upgrades to Santa Monica, said senior distribution manager Lammy Li.

These titles are part of the company's vault of 100-plus independently made Chinese-language films produced from the 1970s to 2000s acquired during the past two years. The company entered into international all-rights deals with the individual producers for nine of 10 of those movies, Li said.

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TV and video rights of have been sold to France (Spectrum, 15 action films), Thailand (Jiant, 30 actioners, drama and erotica) and Malaysia (Transmedia, four films including two Brigitte Lin melodramas).

An ancillary-market deal also was inked to Asia Media Rights, while U.S. rights for martial arts films The Supergirl of Kung Fu and Young Hero also have been sold to another company.

Star Alliance’s lineup also includes new films such as the Taiwanese undead flick Zombie 108; Hong Kong horror film The Incredible Truth, currently in postproduction and starring Christy Chung as well as Japanese actors Denden (Cold Fish) and Megumi Kagurazaka (Guilty of Romance, The Land of Hope -- both directed by her real-life husband, Sion Sono).

A Zombie sequel and Thai fantasy actioner The Monkeys: The Masked Warrior are also in preproduction, with the company also pushing five completed titles.