Fox's Star Chinese Movies Launches Asian Film Slate

Josie Ho
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

The channel has three films in the works for Hong Kong, two for Taiwan, and two for Singapore, along with a TV mini-series project it says will be helmed by a film director and produced to a high-quality "international standard."

HONG KONG – Star Chinese Movies (SCM) is celebrating its twentieth anniversary by launching a slate of original Chinese film productions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, and developing Chinese-language mini-series it say will be of an "international standard." .

Headlining the Hong Kong slate is Que Sera Sera, a film under the "Go Local" project banner co-produced with Emperor Motion Pictures, which sees Chapman To as producer, Herman Yau as director, and stars Charlene Choi and Simon Yam in the lead. It is followed by Full Strike, a badminton movie starring Ekin Cheng, Ronald Cheng and Josie Ho, and directed by Derek Kwok, now in production. Also on the Hong Kong slate is short film Hill of the Ilha Verde by King Cheung, now in post-production.

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Now part of Fox International Channels, owned by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, Star Movies was launched in Taiwan in 1994, and split into Star Chinese Movies, a Hong Kong-movie-based channel and Star Movies, a Western movies channel, in 1996. In 2008, it launched Star Chinese Movies 2, later rebranded as SCM Legend, a channel focusing on Hong Kong cinema in the 1970s to1990s.

"Our angle for developing the movie slate is to support new directors and independent companies," Fox International Channels senior vp Cora Yim told The Hollywood Reporter. "We began to notice that the audience taste for movies is very diverse, so we try to look for local stories with local potential to invest." The company will hold the TV and new media rights of the films.

For the Taiwanese market, there is Partners in Crime, directed Jung-Chi Chang starring Ko-Chia Yen, now in post-production. The company is also prepping Fly Your Dream, directed by Khan Lee starring Jui-chia Chang and Tiffany Hsu. For Singapore, SCM has invested in Filial Party, directed by Boris Boo and starring Mark Lee, Christopher Lee and Ann Kok, to be released in May 2014; and Lion Men 2, directed by Jack Neo, starring Tosh Zhang and Wang Wei Liang, which is set for a June release.

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SCM is also looking to develop high-quality mini-series, said Yim. "The Fox brand is a prominent one in the U.S., and has made a lot of successful television series such as 24 or The Walking Dead," she explained. "We are hoping to bring the high standard drama series format to Asia, like those in the U.S. or the U.K." SCM will be the first window for the six to eight episode long series, and is in negotiation with film directors to helm the project. But what matters is the concept and the structure. "The story is the driving creative force of the series," said Yim.

In 2000, SCM signed a landmark exclusive output and licensing deal with Media Asia and China Star, and a similar deal with Emperor Motion Pictures in 2004, securing 80 percent of the Chinese titles from the leading Hong Kong studios.

In 2003, SCM landed in Hong Kong through the Now TV platform, and expanded into Singapore on StarHub platform and in the Philippines on Sky Cable in the subsequent year.

SCM became involved in direct investment in local film production with Andy Lau's Focus Films in the "Focus: First Cut" project in 2005, and joined with Salon Films in the "Asia First Cut" project in 2012. The company launched its "Go Local" project with Emperor Motion Pictures in 2013.

SCM has been instrumental in changing the financing structure of Hong Kong movies. "SCM brought the system of more matured markets such as Japan to Chinese cinema, so that studios secured TV rights before they begin production of a film, which provides reliable and predictable income," said Yim.