China's State-run Film Fund Announces China-U.S. Co-production Slate

Projects include Stan Lee's Chinese superhero pic "The Annihilator" and project based on Bruce Lee's last script "The Silent Flute."

SHANGHAI – China’s National Film Capital announce a slate of China-U.S. co-production projects with Chinese elements, including Stan Lee’s Chinese superhero project The Annihilator, and a post-apocalyptic scifi epic based on the script co-written by the late action icon Bruce Lee.

The state-run fund management company - which established in February in Los Angeles a Hollywood division, the China Mainstream Media National Film Capital Hollywood Inc - has set up a 360 million yuan ($57 million) fund, backed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest commercial bank.

The slate announced for the fund, National Film Capital II, includes comic book legend Stan Lee’s Chinese superhero flick The Annihilator, with a script by Real Steel writer Dan Gilroy. The project was the first film announced by Magic Storm Entertainment, partly launched by Lee to develop and produce superhero franchises for Asian audiences.

Also backed by the state-run fund is The Magic Scroll, a $47 million 3D big screen adaptation of the CrossGen comics “The Way of the Rat”, with Academy Awards winning visual effects director Charles Gibson (Babe, Pirates of the Caribbean 2) to direct a script by Chuck Russell (The Mask), and Shimon Arama (The Heist) to produce. Set to be a co-production between China, France, Spain, and the U.S., the film will incorporate the natural landscape of China’s East Lake and Guilin.

The Silent Flute, known as martial arts icon Bruce Lee’s lost movie, is also being developed with the backing of the fund. Based on the last and unfinished script co-written by Lee, screen legend James Coburn, and In the Heat of the Night screenwriter Stirling Silliphant – both martial arts students of Lee at the time – the project has been revived with the blessing of Lee’s widow and daughter. A dystopic scifi fantasy set 800 years in the future, the film is casting two male leads from China and Hollywood, and will be co-produced by Beijing-based Heshan Media, with Jay Rifkin, Kyle Jackson, and Heshan CEO Jiang Ping as producers.

Also among the lineup is Genghis Khan, a historical epic with a target budget of $100 million, written and produced by Peter Doyle. Producer and former Merrill Lynch president William Yuan is in negotiation with the National Film Capital to develop 1421, a screen adaptation of the best-selling and controversial book by Gavin Menzies on 15th century Chinese admiral Zheng He.

“National Film Capital’s strategy is to make English-language co-productions with Chinese subjects with Hollywood screenwriters and directors for worldwide distribution,” said National Film Capital president Guowei Wang. The co-productions will by-pass the film import quota for release in China. Next up for fund management company is to set up a US$300 million fund for ten tentpole-size co-productions, Wang said.