Prolific film and television director Alan Taylor has signed on to helm Gold Mountain, a period adventure film set in 1850s San Francisco during the booming, violent times of the Gold Rush.
Planned as a U.S.-China co-production, the film tells the story of a canny widow and the girl she transports from China, who together overcome innate distrust to form a bond while running a marriage con on unsuspecting men.
Michelle Yeoh is in talks to star and produce, alongside Taylor, Jane Wu and Brandan Dennehy. Taylor first mentioned the project publicly during a panel discussion held at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
“The film will touch on the epic history shared between the U.S. and China,” Taylor told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement Monday. “But at its heart, it is an intimate human story about two women contending with forces beyond their control. It explores how the confrontation between cultures can lead to violence but also to tender and deep connections.”
The film’s script is being written by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, an internationally staged female playwright who was born in the U.S. and raised in Okinawa, Japan, Taipei and Beijing.
“I’m very excited to bring this shared history between the U.S. and China to the big screen so that more audiences can learn how Chinese immigrants impacted that era,” said Wu, producer of the project. Wu said she grew up inspired by stories about Chinese gold miners and the workers who helped construct the transcontinental railway.
Taylor and Wu said a long search through historical records about the Gold Rush led them to this “special story of two individuals caught up in a world-transforming historical time.”
“One of the challenges in making a film for both the East and the West is finding a story that transcends cultures,” added Dennehy. “We are excited to be telling a story that organically is both a slice of American history and a slice of Chinese history.”
Gold Mountain is in development with Starlight Culture Entertainment Group, the Hong Kong and Beverly Hills based company that has first-look deals with Taylor and several other high-profile Hollywood directors, such as Roland Emmerich, James Wan and Jon M. Chu. The company was a co-investor in Crazy Rich Asians last year, and also has a stake in Emmerich’s upcoming WWII action film, Midway. Starlight signed a partnership agreement last week with Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding.
Taylor is best known for his work as a director on some of television’s most acclaimed drama series. He won an Emmy in 2007 for one of the episodes he directed for The Sopranos, and he was later nominated for work on Mad Men and Game of Thrones. He also has helmed big-budget action films, such as Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys.
His next film release as a director is a title that bridges both sides of his career: The big-screen Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark. Written by Sopranos creator David Chase, the film is scheduled to be released Sept. 25, 2020, by Warner Bros.
Taylor is repped by UTA.