John Woo to direct modern China epic

'1949' timed to 60th anniversary of People's Republic

CANNES -- Hong Kong action directing legend John Woo said Tuesday that his next movie will be "1949," an epic on modern China from the end of World War II to the formation of People's Republic, budgeted at $40 million.

Produced by Woo's longtime production partner Terence Chang under the Lion Rock banner, the film has sold worldwide rights outside China to Fortissimo Films, the companies said at a press conference at the Festival de Cannes.

Shooting will take place on location in China and Taiwan and is set to begin production by the end of 2008, the companies said. Producers aim to complete the film for a theatrical release in December 2009, timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

"1949" draws investment from Ling I-Jun and China's state-run movie studio the China Film Group based in Beijing.

Beijing considers Taiwan -- which split off from China in 1949 and has been self-governing ever since -- as a renegade province.

The film will star Seong Hye-kyo ("Fetish") and Chang Chen ("Red Cliff") and was scripted by Wong Hui Ling ("Lust, Caution").

The Chinese-language project is based on true events and features a love story set against the backdrop of the final years of China's civil war before the rise to power of Mao Zedong's Communist Party.

The deal marks the second collaboration between Fortissimo and Lion Rock, following on from "Blood Brothers," by director Alexi Tan.

" '1949' is the perfect film for us to continue our relationship on. Fortissimo is the ideal choice to handle this film with their knowledge, sensitivity, background, enthusiasm and passion that the film demands," producer Chang said.

Woo was in Cannes promoting his first Chinese-language film, "Red Cliff," which is being sold by Summit Entertainment. It was his first film in China since he left Hong Kong years ago for work in Los Angeles.