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Renny Harlin’s new Chinese film finance and production company Extraordinary Entertainment has signed a three-picture co-development deal with Bollywood movie studio B4U.
The pact was unveiled Tuesday at the Shanghai International Film Festival, following a series of panel discussions and keynote speeches about movie industry collaboration between the world’s two most populous nations.
The partners also unveiled their first project together: action flick Operation Wild, written by Brian Brightly (Inside Man 2, Bleed), with Harlin set to direct. Casting and plot weren’t revealed, but the film was described as a large-scale action adventure story in which two elite combat warriors from China and India lead covert forces to shut down a global criminal organization engaged in wildlife poaching.
The Extraordinary Entertainment-BTU deal continues a trend of growing Indian participation in the Chinese film market. A slew of Indian titles have mounted impressive performances at the Chinese box office in recent years, with some even topping the returns of major Hollywood tentpoles. Aamir Khan’s family sports drama Dangal earned $190 million in China in 2017, and his follow-up feature Secret Superstar brought in $118 million in January. Other Indian titles have brought in less eye-popping but still considerable sums.
Harlin launched Extraordinary Entertainment at the Cannes Film Festival in May with Indian producer Daljit DJ Parmar (Kung Fu Yoga), who serves as the banner’s CEO.
“There is a very unique cultural synergy between Chinese and Indian cinema,” Parmar said in a statement Tuesday. “The enormous success of co-production films like Kung Fu Yoga and other Indian films has helped pave the way for Indian content in China. Building on this, we are excited to develop our new China-India film slate, beginning with Operation Wild and our partner B4U, one of India’s most renowned entertainment companies.”
B4U network is one of Bollywood’s larger television networks, operating entertainment channels that reach audiences in some 100 countries. The company also runs a film production subsidiary that releases 10 to 15 movies a year.
“I was thoroughly impressed with [Renny and DJ’s] emphasis and detail behind the human emotions that underpin the storylines of their slate of Indo-China films,” said B4U’s CEO, Ishan Saksena. “I think these films will highlight the emotional bond and cultural values that are common between the people of China and India.”
Added Harlin: “I firmly believe that these combined markets will be the most potent force for storytelling in the world, breathing new life into the global film industry.”
Harlin is best known in Hollywood for his 1990s action hits Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight. But ever since he directed the Jackie Chan action comedy Skiptrace (2014), co-starring Fan Bingbing and Johnny Knoxville, he has lived and worked in Beijing. His second Chinese feature, the Alibaba-backed fantasy Legend of the Ancient Sword, is expected to be released later this year, followed by his third Chinese title, the pressure-cooker thriller Bodies at Rest, produced by Wanda and Media Asia.
With Extraordinary Entertainment, Harlin also has plans to direct a big-budget Chinese sci-fi epic titled Solara. The project is being scripted by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, the writing team behind London Has Fallen, Expendables 3 and Olympus Has Fallen.
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