Berlin: Sony Classics Nears U.S. Deal for Zhang Yimou's 'Coming Home' (Exclusive)

Joe Pugliese
Zhang Yimou

UPDATED: Several companies are circling the film, which has completed shooting and reunites the acclaimed Chinese filmmaker with actress Gong Li.

BERLIN -- Sony Pictures Classics is nearing a deal to pre-buy U.S. rights to Chinese director Zhang Yimou's Coming Home, a love story reuniting the director with actress Gong Li, insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Wild Bunch has been shopping the movie to buyers at the European Film Market, where several U.S. distributors are circling the project. Zhang recently finished shooting the film, which is loosely based on Yan Geling’s The Criminal Lu Yanshi, about Chinese dissidents living in the last century.

Sony Classics has longtime ties to Zhang, having distributed many of his films in the U.S., including House of the Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.

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Coming Home, starring Li opposite Chen Damoing, is hoping to make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Zhang and Gong last worked together seven years ago on Curse of the Golden Flower.

Producers are the Beijing-based Le Vision Pictures and Bill Kong, Zhang's longtime collaborator and Hong Kong producer. David Linde is executive producing.

Coming Home is the second Berlin film Sony Classics has acquired after Aloft, starring Jennifer Connelly, Melanie Laurent and Cillian Murphy.

In recent weeks, Zhang has made headlines around the globe for having to pay a fine of $1.23 million for having two more children than permitted under his country's one-child policy, Chinese family planning authorities said.

Over the course of his career, the Hero director has gone from being a banned director of art house fare (for his directorial debut Red Sorghum) to nationalist epics, such as Hero, which earned him his official rehabilitation.

He further endeared himself to the authorities by directing the choreography for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

His 2011 World War II epic Flowers of War featured Hollywood star Christian Bale. Other recent works include A Simple Noodle Story, an adaptation of the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple, and Under the Hawthorn Tree, a love story set during China's Cultural Revolution.