Shanghai: Chinese Studio Beijing Culture Unveils Slate of Four Films

Beijing Culture
Beijing Culture Chairman Song Ge

Among the highlights on the studio's lineup is Lu Chuan's action-adventure film 'Bureau 749,' based on a real-life Chinese government research organization that studies purported paranormal activity.

Rising Chinese film company Beijing Culture, the studio behind local mega-blockbusters Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, on Monday touted its forthcoming film slate during a showcase event held at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The company promoted Chinese director Lu Chuan's forthcoming action-adventure pic Bureau 749, which Beijing Culture boarded earlier this year as a 35 percent financier, alongside fellow film powerhouses Huayi Brothers Media and Tencent Pictures. The movie is in the final stages of production, but little had been revealed about it prior to Monday.

Lu, whose early works Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004) and City of Life and Death (2009) attracted positive critical notice both within and outside China, took the stage at the Beijing Culture event in Shanghai to share a few pieces of information about the project.

"Through this film, I’ll become known as an action director," Lu said, promising that Bureau 749 will provide plenty of thrills. "There's really a lot of action in this one," he added.

The film indeed sounds like a deviation from Lu's most recent work as a director, the 2016 nature documentary, Born in China, which was a Disneynature and Shanghai Media Group co-production.

As the title suggests, the film centers on China's real-life Bureau 749, a Chinese government research department that studies topics ranging from alleged supernatural forces to human body structure. Lu, 48, spent two years in his youth actually working at China's Bureau 749 as a low-level military official, and he said the project is very loosely inspired by his own observations there. The film is said to feature a fight between the bureau and a mysterious paranormal phenomenon.

Produced by veteran Chinese producer Han Sanping, Bureau 749 stars Miao Miao, Ryan Zheng, Min Red and Kerry Wang. It is expected to be released in late 2019.

Beijing Culture's chairman Song Ge opened the company's Shanghai event by outlining the studio's approach to commercial moviemaking. 

"Given the societal circumstances we have today, we should be shooting films that reflect mainstream values," he said. "Stories that the state encourages you to shoot, things that are familiar to average people, which are stabilizing to society — this is the role of commercial filmmaking."

Within this conservative approach, Song identified scope for creativity in the cultivation of genres and storytelling styles not yet deployed in the Chinese film industry — with the unspoken examples obviously being Beijing Culture's huge recent successes with the military action film and sci-fi genres in Wolf Warrior 2 and The Wandering Earth, respectively.

"There are so many genres and subjects that have been done in the U.S. and Korea, but that our Chinese industry has yet to produce. We can absolutely bring those genres in and make them ourselves," added Song.

The other three titles showcased by Beijing Culture on Monday showcased Song's approach in action. They included director Ding Sheng's police action flick S.W.A.T., starring Xiaosu Ling, Jerry Jia, Chen Jin and Junxiao Liu; screenwriter-turned-helmer Runnian Dong's light sci-fi pic People Caught by the Light, featuring Huang Bo and Luodang Wang; and Dancing Elephant, a coming-of-age inspirational comedy about a dancer who falls into a coma after an accident and wakes up years later 200 pounds heavier and disorientated by the changes in the world. Directed by Taiwanese filmmaker Lin Yu-Hsien and starring newcomer Jin Chunhua, Dancing Elephant will be Beijing Culture's next major release to hit Chinese screens and is slated to open July 26.