China's Alibaba Pictures to Remake 'Night at the Museum'

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Still 1 - H 2014
Joe Lederer

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Still 1 - H 2014

The project is the latest collaboration between Hollywood and the upstart studio established by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma.

Alibaba Pictures, the Chinese film studio established by Jack Ma's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has acquired the rights to remake 20th Century Fox's Night at the Museum franchise.

The plans for a Chinese remake were mentioned in passing by Jim Gianopulos, CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, during a panel discussion at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles on April 16.

A source in China with knowledge of the plans confirmed the agreement to THR. The project is understood to be in the early stages, with casting and a director yet to be secured. 

Alibaba Pictures Group declined to comment.

The original Night at the Museum films, directed by Shawn Levy and starring Ben Stiller and the late Robin Williams, saw U.S. and international box office returns slide across the span of the franchise. Released in 2006, first film grossed $250 million in North America and $575 million worldwide, while the third picture earned $113.7 million in North America and $363.2 million worldwide in 2014. But in China, the trend has been reversed. The first film earned $8.3 million in the Middle Kingdom, while the third feature grossed $47 million. China's overall box office more than quadrupled during the same period.  

Alibaba Pictures has invested in three Hollywood films from Paramount, but this will be its first remake of a major U.S. studio film. Last year, the upstart studio boarded Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, and last week it announced an investment in the forthcoming Paramount films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and Star Trek Beyond.

Other signs of the studio's deepening Hollywood ties include a recent partnership with Skydance Media to co-finance and produce The Flying Tigers, a China-set WWII pic to be scripted by Braveheart writer Randall Wallace.

Later this year, the studio will release its much anticipated Chinese-language feature debut, The Ferryman, directed by Zhang Jiajia and produced by Wong Kar-wai.