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Jason Statham has signed a deal with STX Entertainment and Tencent Pictures, the fast-growing film arm of Chinese internet giant Tencent, to co-develop an action film targeting the Chinese film market, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned.
Statham will produce and star in the project, which is expected to be set up as an official China co-production. Details of the film’s story and concept are still under development.
The deal is an extension of Statham’s ongoing courtship of the growing Chinese film market. The actor, 50, is one of Hollywood’s most familiar faces in the Middle Kingdom, thanks to the enormous local success of the Fast and the Furious franchise, the last two installments of which are the market’s two highest-grossing imported films ever (Furious 7 earned $390 million in 2015, which The Fate of the Furious topped with $392 million in 2017).
Statham’s Chinese industry ties date back to his breakout film The Transporter (2002), which co-starred actress Shu Qi and was directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Corey Yuen. He next can be seen in the Chinese co-produced creature feature Meg, from Beijing-based Gravity Pictures and Warner Bros.’ Chinese joint venture Flagship Entertainment. Statham toplines the film opposite Chinese actress Li Binging, playing a former Naval captain recruited to undertake a deep-sea mission to rescue scientists under attack from a 70-foot prehistoric shark.
The new Statham-led project is a natural next step for STX, which is coming off the 2017 success of Chinese co-production The Foreigner, starring Jackie Chan. The film earned $141 million worldwide from a production budget of $35 million. The company also recently partnered with Tencent on live Chinese broadcasts of the 75th Golden Globes Awards and the Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2018 telecast.
STX, co-founded by Bob Simonds and Bill McGlashan in 2014, has considerable ties to China. Tencent, China’s most valuable company by market capitalization, is among STX’s strategic investors, along with Beijing-based private equity firm Hony Capital.
Tencent Pictures has been escalating its activity in Hollywood, too. The company is also co-developing a film adaptation of its wildly popular Chinese comic property Zombie Brother with Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin’s Free Association.
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