Col, Chow's Star team on niche projects


CANNES -- Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia and Stephen Chow's Star Overseas are teaming up on a multifeature production collaboration.

The two companies will collaborate on a series of niche films featuring new and emerging Asian talent both above and below the line. The hip-hop dance romantic comedy "Jump," which is based on an original story by Chow, marks the first project under the new production partnership.

The story centers on an awkward and naive farm girl (Kitty Zhang) who dreams of stardom in the big city. A cleaner in a local dance school by day, she secretly pursues her dream by night, perfecting her own unique hip-hop martial arts dancing style. Her transformation quickly becomes a media sensation but affects her life in unexpected ways.

Chui Po Chu ("Kung Fu Hustle," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") is producing the film. Zhang will make her screen debut opposite Chow in his upcoming comedy feature, tentatively titled "A Hope," which will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in the U.S. and Sony Pictures Releasing International worldwide, excluding China.

"Jump" is set to start production in China in the summer with Sony Pictures Releasing International handling worldwide distribution for this and all future films produced under the new collaboration. No decision has been made yet on which arm of Sony will distribute "Jump" in the U.S. In the past, Chow's films have been released by Sony Pictures Classics.

"Asia is producing some of the most exciting new talent," said Gareth Wigan, vice chairman of Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Group. "With Stephen's superb artistic sensibilities and commercial instincts combined with Sony's distribution and marketing expertise, the prospects for this collaboration are extremely exciting."

Chow's production company previously collaborated with Sony on "Kung Fu Hustle," which proved to be a boxoffice hit and was nominated for a 2005 Golden Globe for best foreign-language film.

Star Overseas recently wrapped the Chow-helmed "A Hope." SPRI will release "A Hope" worldwide, excluding China, with Sony Pictures Classics distributing the film in North America. The movie was produced by Star Overseas in association with mainland China co-production partner China Film Group.

"With Sony joining us in this initiative, Star Overseas has the capacity to further expand its support of a new generation of actors and showcase Asia's young filmmakers to the world," Chow said.