Studio sets Chinese-made movie for next year

Walt Disney Studios has boarded its second Chinese-made movie, “Touch of the Panda.”

Pic, which was shot in Sichuan Province, the area recently devastated by an earthquake, is a live-action story of a young panda rescued by an orphaned boy played by newcomer Daichi Harashima.

Now in post-production, “Touch’ will be released around the time of Chinese New Year, in January or February.

“Touch” is helmed by China’s Yu Zhong and produced by Castle Hero Pictures and Ying Dong Media. The Mouse House will handle worldwide distribution and marketing.

Deal is structured as a negative pickup that gives Disney rights in all territories including China, though the conglom previously helped with pre-production and filming stages.

Pic is produced and written by Jean Chalopin and Jennifer Liu. Exec producer credit goes to Tian Ye, chairman of Beijing-based Ying Dong.

“This is a perfect movie for us because of the potency of the story and because it is a great celebration of this symbol of China,” said Jason Reed, exec VP of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production.

Disney’s first Chinese pic was 2007’s “The Magic Gourd” a partially animated Hong Kong-China co-production involving special effects house Centro Digital and China Film Group.

Reed said Disney’s Chinese operation is developing an array of other local movies.

“We are targeting areas that are underserved in China and those which play to our strengths. These include action-adventure, though not hard action, sports movies and family comedies.”

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