Weinstein Co. touts Asia projects


BEIJING -- As the first fruit of its $285 million Asian film fund -- martial arts epic "The Forbidden Kingdom" -- debuted Wednesday in Beijing, the Weinstein Co. offered additional information on productions from that fund expected this year.

"Shanghai," starring John Cusack and Gong Li, will begin shooting May 5 in London, before moving to Thailand. It eventually might move to its namesake city, where it was denied a shooting permit this year. Mikael Hafstrom will direct, and the film is set for a Christmas Day release.

The Weinstein Co.'s planned remake of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai," meanwhile, will begin shooting in the last quarter of the year for a 2009 release. Final negotiations for a director are under way, and there have been preliminary casting discussions, the company said.

The announcement came as the $75 million "Kingdom," which features the first teaming of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, debuted here with its stars in attendance. "Kingdom," which opens Friday on more than 3,000 screens in the U.S., is being co-released by the Weinsteins and Lionsgate in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, France and Latin America.

TWC launched its Asian Film Fund in August, earmarking $285 million for a planned 21 films over the next six years.