Disney to Co-Produce Chinese Remake of Sandra Bullock's 'The Proposal' (Exclusive)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Photofest
"The Proposal Still"

The remake will be a co-production with Linmon Pictures, an ambitious upstart studio based in Shanghai.

Walt Disney Pictures has partnered with Shanghai-based Linmon Pictures to co-produce a Chinese-language remake of The Proposal, the hit romantic comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

Last week, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger told Bloomberg that his studio was preparing to make Disney-branded films in China, and that at least one would be in production within a year. The Linmon Pictures co-production is the first such Chinese project to be revealed. 

The Chinese remake will be directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Chih-yen Yee (Blue Gate Crossing, Dangerous Mind); casting will be revealed at a later date. The Chinese company shared the remake plans during the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival Tuesday.

The Proposal was produced by Touchstone Pictures and released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in 2009. It debuted to $34 million — the biggest opening weekend of Bullock's career at the time — and eventually earned $164 million in North America and $317.4 million worldwide.

The Chinese box office grew by 48 percent last year, and the country is expected to top North America in 2017 as the world's largest theatrical territory. The relentless growth has meant Hollywood films, on average, continue to earn more than ever in China, but the studios are also angling to get in on the increasingly lucrative market for local Chinese-language films. In March, Warner Bros. announced a 12-film slate of Chinese-language films to be produced by its Beijing joint venture, Flagship Entertainment. Captain America directors Joe and Anthony Russo have also launched a Beijing-based production venture for Chinese films. 

Linmon Pictures was launched in 2014 by Zhou Yuan, former head of Shanghai Media Group, and fellow SMG albums Su Xiao, Chen Fei and Xu Xiao’ou. In its first two years of operation, Linmon produced several high-profile Chinese TV dramas, including Chronicle of Life and To Be a Better Man. The company is now making an ambitious push into film production and distribution and also plans to add a talent management operation and a digital production house.

During the Shanghai festival, Linmon also unveiled an ambitious slate of wholly Chinese film projects. The projects include three adaptations: Tornado Girl, a big-screen adaptation of a hit teen drama from Hunan TV; Red Ocean, an animation based on a story by best-selling Chinese science fiction writer Han Song (the film will be co-produced by Beijing-based Big Big Sun, the company behind Monkey King: Hero Is Back); and Dear Archimedes, adapted from the wildly popular online romantic drama series of the same name.

“Linmon Pictures isn't just playing the capital game," said Linmon CEO Zhou. "Our philosophy is to learn, exchange and co-produce — to work from a solid base of development. Therefore, in our upcoming slate, international cooperation is an integral part."

During the Cannes Film Festival in May, Linmon acquired Steven Soderbergh's top-secret directorial project Logan Lucky for distribution in China. The studio also picked up Chinese rights to Michael Grandage's Genius, starring Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman, and the forthcoming sci-fi Redivider, starring Dan Stevens and directed by Tim Smit. Linmon has also partnered with Alibaba Pictures to jointly release Robinson Crusoe, a Belgian-French 3D animation based on Daniel Defoe's classic novel. The companies will bring the film out in China later this summer, ahead of its U.S. release by Lionsgate on Sept. 9.