China's Edko to Remake Yamada Yoji's 'What a Wonderful Family!'

Hawaii Int’l Film Festival - What a Wonderful Family - H 2016
Courtesy of Hawaii Int’l Film Festival

Huang Lei's Chinese remake of the family comedy is the latest sign that ties between Asia's two biggest film industries are growing ever closer.

Yoji Yamada's hit Japanese comedy What a Wonderful Family! (Kazoku wa Tsuraiyo) is getting a Chinese remake. 

Bill Kong's Edko and Shanghai Yiyantang Entertainment will produce the Chinese version of the film, with Huang Lei directing and his wife, Sun Li, set to star, according to Chinese media reports.

What a Wonderful Family! was released by Shochiku in Japan in March this year and took around $13 million at the local box office.

The dramedy follows a couple, married for 50 years. When the husband asks his wife what she wants for her upcoming birthday, she replies: "a divorce," sending the supposedly happy family into turmoil. A Japanese sequel, also directed by Yamada, is set for a May 2017 release. Shochiku is due to make an announcement about the remake on Monday, but details have already emerged in China.

The Japanese title of the film is a riff on Yamada's long-running film series Otoko wa Tsuraiyo (it's tough being a man) about a traveling salesman, known in English as Tora-san, the name of the lead character.

The deal is a further sign that relations between the Japanese and Chinese film industries continue to thaw. After years of minimal interaction between the two Asian neighbors, largely due to political tensions between the Tokyo and Beijing governments, the two regional film giants are growing closer together. Japanese animated comedy Stand by Me Doraemon took $100 million in China last year, while fellow anime Your Name opened to $41 million last weekend, a record for a Japanese film in the world's second-largest theatrical market.

It was a Shochiku film Manhunt (Kimi yo Fundo no Kawa o Watare) that was the first big imported hit after the Cultural Revolution in China when it was released in 1978, making a huge local star of Ken Takakura. John Woo is currently working on a remake of Junya Sato's crime thriller, shot in Japan and set for release next year.