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Weinsteins set ‘Shanghai,’ ‘Samurai’

Company offers details of Asian Film Fund

With “The Forbidden Kingdom” set to open wide Friday, the Weinstein Co. divulged a few more details Tuesday about the products of its $285 million Asian Film Fund.

The two highlights:

“Shanghai” will be directed by Mikael Hafstrom (“1408,” “Derailed”) from a script by Hossein Amini (“The Wings of the Dove”). The story, set in 1941 China, will star John Cusack, Gong Li and Ken Watanabe. Shooting will begin May 5 in London, then move to Thailand and possibly China. The film will be released in North America on Christmas Day.

“Seven Samurai” will start shooting in the fourth quarter for release in 2009. The cast will feature American, European and Asian stars, and a director is in advanced talks with TWC.

“Kingdom,” the Jet Li-Jackie Chan starrer that’s the first pic to come out of the fund, will be jointly distribbed by Weinstein and Lionsgate in the U.S., U.K., Spain, France and Latin America.

Harvey Weinstein said “Kingdom,” “Shanghai” and “Samurai” are ideal titles to launch the fund. They “highlight our commitment to providing international filmmakers with a global platform and will blaze the trail for high-quality, action-packed, Asian-themed adventures,” he said.

Launched in August 2007, TWC’s Asian Film Fund has $285 million in capital for development, acquisition, financing, distribution and marketing. The fund resulted from the Weinsteins’ track record on pics such as “Hero,” “Iron Monkey,” “The Protector” and “Shall We Dance?”

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