The 17th Shanghai International Film Festival kicked off this weekend with some red-carpet glamour, screenings and fresh announcements of new East-West partnerships, as the U.S. and mainland China — the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 movie markets — look for more meaningful ways to cooperate.
Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, John Cusack and Gong Li were among the stars who walked the red carpet Saturday night as the festival opened with a restored classic, “Stage Sisters,” a 1965 drama about two opera singers in the 1940s directed by Xie Jin.
The festival, which runs through June 22, will close with something entirely different: Paramount Pictures’ “Transformers 4,” filmed partly in Hong Kong.
As the festival got into full swing, China’s No. 3 broadcaster, Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp., announced it was inking an equity investment and film and TV distribution agreement deal with L.A.’s Relativity Media, headed by Ryan Kavanaugh. Financial terms of the pact, which aims to develop, co-finance and distribute film and TV content, were not disclosed.
“Relativity has long been focused on expanding our footprint in this incredibly dynamic market,” Kavanaugh said in a statement. Via "the partnership with [Jiangsu] we ... will further strengthen the robust foundation we have built in China."
On Sunday, meanwhile, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Warner Bros. said they would co-finance and co-produce the fantasy adventure “Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal,” set for release in China on Feb. 19.
The film is directed by Zhao Tianyu and will star Li Bingbing, Chen Kun, Yang Zishan, Jike Junyi and Bao Bei'er. The producers are Ann An (“Ip Man 2,” “Tiny Times”) and Peter Pau, an Oscar-winning cinematographer. Javier Navarrete, who was nominated for an Oscar for his composing work on “Pan's Labyrinth,” will score the film.
"Zhong Kui," which is also backed by Desen International Media and will be shot in 3-D, is expected to debut the first day of the 2015 Chinese New Year holiday. The movie tells the story of a Chinese antihero, Zhong Kui, a young man endowed with mysterious powers who is forced into a fight among the realms of heaven, Earth and hell in his attempt to save a woman he loves.
The two companies said they would have a “significant participation” in the film's global revenues, including those in mainland China. Village Roadshow Pictures Asia said it would have distribution rights in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, and Warner Bros. would handle distribution in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
“With an incredible team of international talent both on screen and behind the camera, we’re confident that 'Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal' will become a modern classic of Chinese cinema,” Ann An said in a statement. "We're thrilled that Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Warner Bros. Pictures have joined with us and our partner Enlight Pictures to help realize our creative vision and bring this film to audiences throughout the region and beyond.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times