Pair eat up ‘Banquet’

StudioCanal, Atasagun get seat at table

Huayi Brothers, China’s biggest private sector movie player, has sold “The Banquet” to France’s StudioCanal and to Turkey’s Atasagun Films.

The “Hamlet” adaptation stars Cannes juror Zhang Ziyi and is the big bid for international breakout of locally socko helmer Feng Xiaogang. Festival is also the Cannes preem of company’s new international sales arm.

Huayi has also unveiled Feng’s next pic as a big-budget contemporary war pic. “In China there is a tradition of propaganda war films, but there is very little in the way of commercial pictures of the genre,” said Huayi CEO Wang Zhonglei.

Pic is scripted by “The Story of Qiu Ju”-screenwriter Heng Liu and will boast a strong Chinese cast, although without the superstar credits of Zhang, Wang expects pic to cost less than “Banquet’s” $20 million.

Company will open the yet-to-be titled pic to overseas co-producers in part of a drive to expand Huayi’s international reach beyond its solid connections in Asia.

“The studios are changing the way they look at our movies. They have not been set up to handle Chinese films in the $10 million-$20 million range, but with their growing specialty operations and use of independents we are looking forward to much closer relations.”

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