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Orb Media Group has set up a Chinese-language, China based production and financing entity called Ironpond, which will include a collaboration with the Taiwanese fantasy martial arts writer Shiao Yi.
“This is truly a special day for us on many levels,” said Peter Shiao, CEO of Orb Media Group. “We are very excited to enter the world of Chinese language films in a comprehensive way.”
Ironpond will be headed up by veteran Chinese media executive Chen Yuling, formerly of Phoenix Film Group and Zebra Media, based in Beijing.
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Ironpond was the name of Shiao’s last venture, a private equity style fund for films in China in partnership with the China Film Group.
Projects will be differentiated in the Chinese marketplace by their scale and ambition, while being very accessible to non-Chinese audiences around the world by their story telling and style, said Shiao, who has been involved in many bridge-building efforts between Hollywood and China, including organizing the forthcoming U.S.-China Film Summit with the Asia Society.
Shiao Yi is one of the top writers in the martial arts/fantasy genre, and has written over 50 novels including The 19th Assassin, East Wind on the Cold Painted Veil and The Princess without Worry. He has written over 20 produced films in partnership with Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest during their golden era, and hundreds of hours of television programs.
The initial lineup of films include a new interpretation of The 19th Assassin, which is currently being produced for the fourth time for television in China, and the first installment of the Immortal Sword series.
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Each project will be in the $30 million range, and will be financed by Orb Media Group and other strategic investment partners, including the Strategic Bang Group of Shanghai and China Mainstream Media Fund of Beijing.
The collaboration with Shiao Yi has a special significance for Peter Shiao, as the writer is his father.
“After a lifetime of conversations and several years in development, the time has ripened for my father, Shiao Yi and Orb and me to work together,” he said.
“We are in a unique position to deliver the next generation of martial arts/fantasy films that will at once be post-modern and classic for die-hard fans and youth audiences. Taking the genre to its spiritual and philosophical roots with visual flair and Hollywood level execution will be a special aim,” said Shiao.
Ironpond will also actively manage and work through the Shiao Yi library of books, many of which are still in publication, to look for subject matter across a range of media including television, games, graphic novels and digital products.
Shiao Yi said it was very heartening to be working with his son.
“Personally, I am excited about this next chapter which is to create genre lifting films that will pave a new direction in this style of stories and films that I have spent over 50 years in shaping,” he said.
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