Fox, Huayi Brothers, Sundream Team for 'Love in Space'

The film is a sequel to last year's rom-com "Hot Summer Days."

HONG KONG -- Twentieth Century Fox International, China’s Huayi Brothers and Hong Kong’s Sundream Motion Pictures announced the production of Love in Space on Tuesday, the follow-up to the 2010 romantic comedy Hot Summer Days. Filming will begin in Beijing on March 8 for a September 2011 release.

Co-directed by Hot Summer Days helmers Wing Shya and Tony Chan, Love in Space features a galaxy of stars from the Greater China region, including Hong Kong’s Aaron Kwok (After This, Our Exile) pop singer Eason Chan (Lady Cop & Papa Crook), and Chinese female lead of last year’s 600 million yuan-grossing ($91.2 million) Aftershock, Xu Fan, and Taiwan’s Kwai Lun-Mei (The Stool Pigeon).  

The film marks the second co-production between Fox International and Huayi Brothers, with Hong Kong’s Sundream coming in as a new partner. The partnership is on a project-by-project basis; the companies have no long-term partnership deal. Huayi Brothers will handle the new film’s production and distribution in China, while Sundream will handle the marketing in Hong Kong. Distribution in Hong Kong will be shared by Sundream and Fox International.   

Fox International will distribute the film worldwide, including commercial release in North America, Fox International Greater China managing director Tu Ming said. “We had a good time working with the directors last time on Hot Summer Days. We trust their fresh visual style on their last film and the new script is original,” opined Tu. The film will be the second North American release of Fox International’s Chinese production, following The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman in March.   

Lost in Space is a model of Huayi Brothers’s three-pronged strategy in developing its production slate, including expanding into different genres. “At the beginning, everyone was making historical epics and action films, but female audiences support romantic comedies, which are less costly to make. This genre can become part of the mainstream films,” Huayi Brothers Media Corp. president James Wang told The Hollywood Reporter.   

In addition, the company would expand its slate “moderately and not in a large scale,” to around 8 to 10 films per year, so that it can have tight quality control over its products. Moreover, the company plans on working with more young directors, “since they are the ones who are most in need of the opportunity to work on commercial projects with a bigger budget, in order to hone their skills in making profitable films,” said Wang, “they might make excellent small films, but the audience might not have a chance to see them.” 

Shot on a budget of US$5.5 million, of which Huayi Brothers contributes half, Love in Space is the second directorial effort of its Hong Kong-born co-directors, who saw their debut Hot Summer Days breaking the 100-million-yuan mark in China in early 2010.  

That film had less than stellar box office in Hong Kong, but Sundream VP Tom Cheung said that’s where their involvement matters this time around with the follow-up, which is also headed by a predominantly Hong Kong cast. 

A subsidiary of i-Cable, Sundream would be involved mainly in Love in Space’s marketing and promotion, including through the company’s cable channels. 

“In terms to the box office proportion, the film’s main market is in China, but our involvement indicates our dedication in narrowing the box office disparity between China and Hong Kong,” said Cheung. The film marks Sundream’s first co-production in two years. During that time, Cheung said, the company has been developing new projects, but the process had taken longer than before, as considerations for the markets in China, Southeast Asia and even the pan-Pacific region had to be taken. 

“But the Hong Kong audience’s acceptance for co-productions is on the rise, such as the recent Chinese blockbusters If You Are the One 2, Aftershock, and Let the Bullets Fly. The Hong Kong audience has diverse tastes, they are adapting rather well,” Cheung noted.