Berlin: Infotainment Takes China Rights to 'The Blacksmith' (Exclusive)

Laurence Fishburne-Getty-H 2019
Earl Gibson III/FilmMagic

The Beijing-based company is sticking with a recently signed distribution deal for the Laurence Fishburne-starring action thriller despite the recent loss of the film's other lead, Nick Jonas.

Pierre Morel’s upcoming action thriller The Blacksmith, which recently lost its star Nick Jonas due to a scheduling conflict, has a deal in place for the important China market.

Beijing-based distributor Infotainment China Media picked up rights to the film ahead of Berlin's European Film Market and plans to stick with the project despite the casting change-up.

The Blacksmith was one of the biggest and buzziest projects to emerge from last summer's Cannes Virtual Market, where it sold out to much of the world. Directed by Taken director Morel, the franchise-friendly project is a John Wick-style high-concept actioner, based on the graphic novel from Kickstart Comics. Ben Ripley (Source CodeFlatliners) adapted the comic for the screen. AGC Studios is financing and producing the film.

Cindy Mi Lin, Infotainment China's CEO, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the rationale for the company's acquisition of the film was built around Morel's commercial filmmaking pedigree and the quality of the concept and source material rather than the appearance of Jonas, who has somewhat limited name recognition in China. "The core quality of the movie is what's important to us," Lin says, "and we expected that it will be well delivered."

Jonas was set to play Wes Loomis, the eponymous "Blacksmith" — a go-to weapons expert for the intelligence community. But when his clandestine lab is destroyed and his colleagues murdered, Loomis has to go on the run with only his wits, and his unique technical skills to keep him alive. Laurence Fishburne is attached to play Mather, a retired blacksmith and Loomis' mentor, who he seeks out for help on his mission to find out who betrayed him.

AGC's plan was to shoot The Blacksmith in Toronto last year but fitting the production into Jonas' already-packed schedule proved too much. Casting for a replacement is now underway.

"We are looking forward to see who AGC picks as a replacement and we're hopeful it will be someone that the Chinese audience will enjoy," Lin added.

Infotainment China's other acquisitions from recent years include Tom Harper's The Aeronauts, starring Redmayne (2020), and the Russian-Belarusian war drama Persian Lessons (2020), which premiered in Berlin last year.