Beijing Film Fest: Luc Besson Readies $48M 'Warriors Gate' for May Shoot

Luc Besson
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"I don't know how to make TV shows -- I let the people who know how to do it take it on and hope they're doing their job." -- Luc Besson

The fantasy movie will have "something for everyone," the French director promises.

Luc Besson and Fundamental chief Mark Gao Jingdong unveiled their $48.44 million Warriors Gate project yesterday and said the fantasy film would start shooting in May as a French-Chinese co-production.

Besson's EuropaCorp is collaborating with Gao's Shanghai-based production and sales outfit on the project. Besson will produce and Matthias Hoene (Cockneys vs. Zombies) will direct, with the film's stars to include Taiwanese-Canadian actor Mark Chao (Monga); rising Chinese name Ni Ni, who featured in Zhang Yimou's Flowers of War; and Uriah Shelton.

The project was announced at the Beijing International Film Festival. The news conference was also attended by Cheng Jiaqi, who heads Fundamental Films, alongside Gregory Quanhon, who is head of its international division, and screenwriter Robert Kamen.

"It is a pretty big co-production. It is like food. You always try to find something for everybody. It is a very happy family film, kind of like Chronicles of Narnia. Mark Gao liked the story immediately when I talked to him about it," said Besson.

The producers were keen to point out that it was a genuine co-production, shooting in China but also featuring Chinese stars in prominent roles.

Fundamental Films and EuropaCorp have a multiyear output deal that stipulates Fundamental will release at least 15 EuropaCorp films in China, with at least three of these co-produced by Fundamental.

The collaborations include The Transporter Legacy, directed by Camille Delamarre (Brick Mansions). EuropaCorp was the creator of the original franchise.

"We worked with EuropaCorp on District 13, Lucy and Taken 3. Our cooperation has only just begun. Both parties have invested a lot of time and energy in this film, and we are really looking forward to it," said Gao.

Overseas filmmakers want China co-production status because films granted such a designation are treated as domestic films and do not fall under China's import quota. These films usually involve local investment in exchange for local distribution rights.

They also stand a much stronger chance of getting a mainland Chinese release, have immunity from blackout periods and a greater revenue share.