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Xinhua expands US-China co-prods

Projects include 'Cage,' 'Bullet Run'

HONG KONG – Xinhua Media Entertainment, a. L.A.- and Beijing-based movie investment company, is to expand the number of U.S.-Chinese co-productions with a slate of five projects in different stages of development.

First up is expected to be martial arts actioner “The Cage,” produced by Casey Silver and scripted by John Fusco, a pairing which previously delivered hit co-prod “Forbidden Kingdom.”

XME, which is backed by NASDAQ-listed diversified Chinese media concern Xinhua Finance Media, was founded in April and is headed by former Weinstein Co and IDG exec David U. Lee.

All pics are expected to be set up as official co-productions between powerful state-owned enterprise China Film Group Corporation, other leading Chinese shingles and Hollywood outfits. Production is to be predominantly in English with Mandarin dubbed versions for release in China. “Our role is to be the facilitator or conduit,” said Lee. “We speak the language of Hollywood and we speak the language of production in China.”

Lee says that XME packages the projects and co-invests in a manner that gives it a slice of the U.S. producer’s equity and an interest in the distribution rights in ‘Greater China’ (China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Other projects include:

  • “Bullet Run,” an international action thriller by producers Jon Shestack (“Air Force One,” “Firewall”), Max Wong and Karen Firestone.

    suspense thriller “The Hunted,” from producer Steve Squillante (“Shanghai”) and “Snakes on a Plane” helmer David R. Ellis scripted by the Hayes brothers, (“House of Wax”.) Pic will shoot in 3D.

  • Action thriller “High Stakes,” by producers Matthew Rhodes (“Southland Tales”), Keri Selig (“The Stepford Wives”) and Kia Jam (“Lucky Number Slevin”) which is expected to lense in Las Vegas, Macau and China’s Guangdong region.

  • A live-action version of classic Chinese female heroine tale “Mulan” produced by Steve Waterman (‘Casper,” “Stuart Little 1 & 2”.)

“We want to show the mainstream global audience that the Chinese film industry can do more than just period martial art films,” said Lee.

Projects are not yet fully-financed, but Lee is confident that they can attract top partners and involve companies from Chinese regions. “All the big players in China want to be involved as this is a slate beyond what they are capable of on their own,” he said.

Chinese government has actively encouraged co-productions as a means of bringing foreign capital and know-how into Chinese film industry. Added attraction for Western outfits is that films which are made according to Chinese regulations and qualify as full, official co-prods are exempt from quota restrictions which currently limit the number of films that can be imported into the fast growing market.

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