'Riddick' director to blast off with 'Ice Moon Rising,' a space film with a China element

Space-rescue films with Chinese elements are becoming a thing -- think “Gravity” and “The Martian.” Another such project, “Ice Moon Rising,” surfaced Monday at the Beijing International Film Festival.

Directed by “Riddick” helmer David Twohy (who penned “The Fugitive” and “G.I. Jane” among other films), the sci-fi movie has been set up as an official U.S.-China co-production between China Film Group and Orb Media, along with Das Films.

According to Twohy, the story centers on a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that is covered in ice and may have an ocean underneath that could support life. Astronauts on a U.S. mission to the Jovian moon encounter an alien life form, and a male astronaut is infected with an untreatable ailment. 

His wife and fellow crewmate promises to go back to Earth and retrieve a remedy, vowing to return within three years. She leaves her mate in a state of suspended animation. But bureaucratic issues and other problems delay her return for 24 years.

When she finally comes back, on a China-backed mission, the couple must sort out a variety of issues stemming from their long separation -- namely that she’s given birth to their daughter and started a new relationship in the intervening quarter of a century. “It’s a story with complex character dynamics,” Twohy said.

Twohy said the lead female astronaut is a woman born in China but raised in the United States.

Peter Shiao, chief executive of Orb Media, said the increasing presence of Chinese elements in space films is “recognition of China as a rising power.”

“They have the ambition and scale to be in outer space,” he said, adding that “you have to think studios are throwing a bone to what will soon be the biggest box office in the world.”

Das Films’ Sriram Das said he wants “Ice Moon Rising” to go into production by the end of 2016.

Producers are currently weighing where to film; among the sites under consideration is Wanda Production’s film base now under construction in the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao. 

Follow@JulieMakLATfor news from China

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