Alliance with Shanghai, Chang Hong still strong

Emperor Motion Pictures has a varied slate on offer this year at FilMart, boosted by a strategic alliance with Shanghai Film Studio and Taiwan’s Chang Hong Channel Group.

The alliance was struck after the trio came together to co-produce $10 million “Slam Dunk,” said Philip Chan, EMP chief operating officer.

Pic, a live-action adaptation of one of the best-selling manga comics of all time, helmed by Kevin Chu Yin Ping (“Expect a Miracle”), is expected to preem in February.

This alliance is in addition to the China-based equity partnership between EMP and Shanghai Film Studio, dubbed SFS Emperor and created in June 2006.

In the past, Emperor relied on in-house productions, which are still a substantial part of its slate, but now it’s investing in more films and picking up rights to distribute pics.

“The Hong Kong market has been very tough over the last few years,” said CEO Albert Lee. “We need to look at the bigger picture … look at the Chinese market as a whole.”

At the top of Emperor’s FilMart push is $10 million drama “The Sun Also Rises,” helmed by Jiang Wen (“Devils on the Doorstep”) and starring Joan Chen (“The Last Emperor”), Jaycee Chan (“2 Young”) and Anthony Wong (“Infernal Affairs”). Pic is a co-production between Emperor, Beijing Taihe Film Investment and Beijing Buyilehu Films. It is in post-production in France and is expected to preem in June or July in Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asian countries.

Pic has also been submitted for consideration at Cannes, Lee said.

The next big project in the pipeline is “Evening Rain,” a $3 million ghost story set in modern day Shanghai. More a story of friendship than horror, the pic’s script is being worked on by Alex Law and Philip Chan. Shooting should begin around December with Law potentially as director, Chan said.

EMP’s slate also includes “The Deserted Inn,” directed by Zhang Jing (“Seven Nights”) and starring Xue Shan (“Guardian Angels”) and Kenny Kwan (“Papa Loves You”). Thriller, with $2 million budget, is a co-production with Polybona Film and has just been completed.

“Downloading Alice,” a romantic action adventure pic starring Isabella Leong (“Isabella”) and helmed by Lawrence Lau is in pre-production.

“The Fantastic Water Babes” is expected to wrap in August and preem in early 2008. The $3 million action comedy is directed by Jeff Lau and stars Gillian Chung.

“Oh My Dog” is produced by Philip Chan and Jeff Lau. The $4 million action comedy is expected to wrap before September and be in theaters by April next year. Pic, about an abandoned border collie that’s adopted by some small-time crooks, stars Isabella Leong.

In pre-production is “Home Run,” helmed by Fang Gang Liang and with cast still to be announced. The $1 million comedy is expected to wrap in June and be released by October.

Action epic “Arrow Warriors” should start shooting at the end of the year. The $10 million action epic doesn’t yet have a director attached, but is being written by “Curse of the Golden Flower” writers Wu Nan and Bian Zhihong.

In other EMP news, Peggy Lee was hired earlier in the year as production controller.

Previously with Sony’s Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Lee worked as a producer on “Hero” and “Kung Fu Hustle.”

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