'Shanghai' lacks U.S. release date

Film is first Asian production from Weinstein brothers

HONG KONG -- The Weinstein brothers' Asian debut is aiming for a fall release in the region, a year after finishing shooting, but its U.S. release date still hasn't been decided, the Hollywood filmmakers' production company said Thursday.

Bob and Harvey Weinstein are best known for founding Miramax, which became part of the independent film movement in the 1990s and produced several high-grossing movies including "Chicago." The brothers left in 2005 to form the Weinstein Co.

"Shanghai," starring John Cusack, Chow Yun-fat, Gong Li and Ken Watanabe, is their first Asian production.

The Weinstein Co. gave the time frame for the release of the World War II-era thriller "Shanghai" in a statement sent to the Associated Press.

The project has been hit by several delays. Chinese movie officials blocked filmmakers from shooting in the country because of concerns about its script.

The officials didn't spell out their reasons, but they were likely worried about the historical backdrop of Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Many Chinese are still upset about the Japanese military's mass killings during that period.

"Shanghai," directed by Sweden's Mikael Hafstrom, is about an American intelligence official (Cusack) who investigates his friend's death in the months before the Pearl Harbor attack.

The production moved to London for interior shots and to the Thai capital, Bangkok, where film crews built an elaborate set that reproduced 1940s Shanghai.

Filmmakers said during a set visit in August 2008 that the movie was aiming for a U.S. release that Christmas, but those plans were postponed.

The Weinstein Co. said in its statement Thursday that it is "looking toward opening the film in Asia this fall," but an American release date has not been set.

A person familiar with the film said the movie finished shooting last August, but took a long time to edit because of "stylistic differences" between the footage shot in London and Bangkok. The filmmakers thought it looked "like two different films," the person said. He declined to be named because he isn't authorized to speak to the media.

The filmmakers also took time to make sure a period film set in China would appeal to American audiences, went through several composers and were worried about the impact of the global financial downturn, the person said.

The final cut was only completed in recent weeks and is now being passed to its Chinese distributor Huayi Brothers, which will submit it to Chinese censors, he said.