Hong Kong's Big Media fleshes out slate


HONG KONG -- Fledgling local film company Big Media Group has begun to unveil details of its first slate of 20 films, confirming that it will make "Another Better Tomorrow" for HK$78 million ($10 million).

Although no director is attached to the lead the project in the dark-themed slate, Big's president Wellington Fung says the film will continue the tradition of the influential action series begun by director John Woo in 1986 with "A Better Tomorrow" starring Chow Yun Fat.

Fung is talking to a Korean producer and plans to cast stars from Hong Kong and Korea. "It is definitely not a remake," Fung said.

Big Media first drew industry attention in March when its film "The Pye-Dog" by Derek Kwok screened to acclaim at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. Kwok's "Moss" is part of the new slate and will be made for HK$6 million ($768,000).

Fung said he thinks Hong Kong lacks actors who drive ticket sales and that he hopes to make medium-budget films with big-budget production values, giving new directors and actors a chance to shine.

"We are seriously pushing new talents to take up the roles which were originally intended for major stars," Fung said.

On the rest of its new slate, Big Media will work with new and veteran directors, most of them "old acquaintances," Fung said. "It's like homecoming."

Joe Ma will produce "The Imp," a remake of 1981 Hong Kong horror flick "The Condemned," which was hailed as one of scariest Asian films ever made. Wong Jing-po will direct with a budget of HK$7.5 million ($960,000).

Ma also will direct "Menopause," about a man in a midlife crisis, with a production budget of HK$7 million ($900,000).

Also handling two projects is director Jingle Ma. "Butterfly Lovers" is budgeted at HK$25 million ($3.2 million). It is based on a Chinese legend about lovers doomed to bitterness as they fall in love repeatedly over 10 lifetimes. "Confronting Justice" has a budget of HK$13 million ($1.7 million).

With "The Button Man," director Qian Ren Hao says he wants to tell the story of a lowlife who survives in a gangland and "lives like a cockroach." It will be produced by Eric Tsang with HK$5.5 million ($704,000).

"Beseiged City" -- to be directed by Lawrence Yau -- is about Hong Kong youth gangs, echoing the helmer's 1998 film "The Youth Gangsters." Its budget is HK$5.5 million ($704,000).

"Meet Mr. Vampire," about a sleeping ghoul awakened by global warming, will be directed by Vincent Kuk with a production budget of HK$25 million ($3.2 million).

"The Boy Who Painted the Sky" will be directed by Chen Kun Huo with a budget of HK$4 million ($512,00). It centers on a young and talented but sad painter.

Other projects include "Happy Birthday, Mr. An" (HK$3 million/$384,000), "Young Men Suddenly in Black" (HK$7 million/$900,000) and Wilson Yip's "The Kung Fu Couple" (HK$20 million/$2.6 million).