Investments in China’s “Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon” and an English-language version of Korean hit comedy “Marrying the Mafia” mark Taewon Entertainment’s transformation from South Korea-focused producer-distrib into Asian and trans-Pacific indie powerhouse.
“Making Korean movies for the Korean market is not enough any more,” said company topper Chung Taewon. “Our ambition is to become a company like Village Roadshow, with its own finance and studio-level relationships in Hollywood.” Company has recently received some $50 million of funding from Fireworks, a North Asian media holding company that is initially funded by Dutch bank ABN-Amro.
Like many Korean companies that view their home markets as approaching saturation, Taewon has looked around Asia for projects and scaled-up its co-productions. Taewon is the largest single financier on “Three Kingdoms,” a $20 million actioner starring Andy Lau and Maggie Q, being lensed by Daniel Lee in China and sold by Arclight Films.
A new L.A.-acquisitions and co-production office will scout for projects and act as bridge on its Asian-themed pictures being aimed at global market.
Company suffered a setback two years ago with the flop of its “Shadowless Sword,” co-produced with New Line, but company is now returning with others.
Projects being lined up include “Spaghetti Versus Noodle,” a $20 million action comedy directed and scripted by Michael Yuen, that is exec produced by Chinese action director Yuen Wo-ping and Paramount-affiliated producer Dede Nickerson. Pic will lense for two weeks in San Francisco before completing production in China. It is also close to greenlighting a $80 million-$100 million adaptation of Japanese manga, similar in style to “Ghost in the Shell.”
Company’s South Korea-based CGI facility, Mix, now supplying effects to “Kingdoms,” is in the process of launching a U.S. offshoot.