Shingle sets big homegrown fare for December 2006

A correction was made to this article on Nov. 23, 2005.

Chinese shingle HuaYi Brothers is gearing up for a busy December — in 2006.

“December is a top time for consumers,” said Xu Li, HuaYi’s assistant general manager. “Many companies choose to reward their employees at the year’s end, so there are more group ticket sales.”

Xu said that in late 2006, HuaYi will have ready comedy helmer Feng Xiaogang’s “The Banquet,” and martial arts actioner “Battle Of Wisdom” (aka “Battle Of Wits”) by Hong Kong helmer Jacob Cheung. It is also readying “Kung Fu Hustle 2,” a follow-up to the Stephen Chow hit, co-produced with Sony/Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia.

The pattern is already being set this December when several of the year’s biggest local Chinese movies duke it out for screen space and aud attention. These include “Perhaps Love,” helmed by Peter Chan and distributed by Stellar Megamedia; Chen Kaige’s “The Promise,” also China’s entry in the foreign-language Oscar race; “Hero” helmer Zhang Yimou’s “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles,” starring Jiang Wen; and Jeffrey Lau’s “A Chinese Tall Story,” on which Huayi is investor and distribber.

Also on Huayi’s production slate is “One Foot Off the Ground,” written and directed by newcomer Chen Daming and starring Chinese starlet Xu Fan.

Founded by brothers Wang Zhongjun and Wang Zhonglei, the privately owned film and television production house sold a 35% stake to Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing-backed in December 2004 in exchange for $5 million in cash and the same amount in convertible bonds.

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