Fox captures 'Bandits' in China


20th Century Fox will co-produce its first Chinese-language movie in China in June, the studio said Thursday, unveiling plans for a martial arts movie by Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (HR 12/15).

The announcement adds Fox to the shortlist of Hollywood studios to navigate moviemaking in the strictly regulated mainland Chinese film industry. Co-productions here grant China's Film Bureau final cut in exchange for a theatrical release to China's growing moviegoing audience.

With co-production partners Beijing Ciwen Digital Oriental Film & TV Production Co. and its Hong Kong-based News Corp. subsidiary Fortune Star Entertainment, Fox said that the script for the tentatively titled "Gold Bandits" is being written by Hong Kong writer-director Gordon Chan ("Beast Cop," "Fist of Legend").

Lau's acting credits include the "Infernal Affairs" films and Zhang Yi-mou's "House of Flying Dragons."

"Co-financing 'Gold Bandits' is part of the studio's country-by-country strategy to align ourselves with credible third-party producers … to create distribution partnerships that begin locally, spread regionally and ultimately reach film audiences worldwide," Fox senior vp film acquisitions Tony Safford said.

Fox will distribute the film in the West and retain home video rights for mainland China.