Variety's surveys the new crop of films
Distribution Workshop (Hong Kong)
Launched last year in Hong Kong, Distribution Workshop is repping a slate of Hong Kong and mainland Chinese pictures.
Key title: “Overheard”
Directed and scripted by two-thirds of the “Infernal Affairs” team (Alan Mak Siu-fai and Felix Chong), pic is a financial thriller about stock-market manipulation; it stars Daniel Wu and Louis Koo, is produced by helmer Derek Yee, and is financed by China’s Bona Entertainment.
M-Line (South Korea)
Founded last year by former Show East exec Michelle Son, M-Line is handling a slate that includes two of the biggest-grossing Korean movies of 2008.
Key title: “Scandal Makers”
Who says comedies don’t travel? “Scandal” clocked up an astonishing 8.25 million admissions at the Korean B.O. and is poised for a Hollywood remake through producer Barry Sonnenfeld. Pic sees a radio talkshow host boost his ratings with a sob story about a missing family, only to have his radio station invaded by the woman and her young son.
Media Asia (Hong Kong)
One of the leading production houses in Hong Kong, Media Asia has a sales slate that includes films by some of the most bankable names in Hong Kong and China: Feng Xiaogang and Johnny To.
Key title: “Sniper”
After much delay, due to the scandal last year surrounding the pic’s star, Edison Chen, it is finally time for Media Asia to launch the action thriller about a former police marksman hell-bent on revenge. Helmed by Dante Lam and also starring Ritchie Jen and Huang Xiaoming, pic gets the gala treatment in the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival.
Edko (Hong Kong)
One of the most powerful production, distribution and exhibition forces in Asia, Edko last year set out its stall as sales agent. Product is largely sourced from “Crouching Tiger” producer Bill Kong and Edko’s production fund.
Key title: “Blood the Last Vampire”
French action helmer Chris Nahon teams with Asian action director Corey Yuen to deliver vampire-slaying tale, with Korean star Gianna Jun (“My Sassy Girl”) saving the world.
New sales company formed under the banner of Thai producer and sales agent Mono Generation (formerly Mono Film).
Key title: “Happy Birthday.”
Starring Thailand’s top leading man, Ananda Everingham, “Happy Birthday” is a romantic drama about pen pals who meet, fall in love and then are tragically separated.
A giant in Japanese broadcasting and studio groups, NTV has carved out a nice film business with TV spinoffs and manga adaptations, including last year’s blockbuster “20th Century Boys.”
Key title: “MW”
Revisitation of a 30-year-old manga by master Osama Tezuka, “MW” is a suspenser about two men, destiny and the excesses of technology.
A rare Chinese indie sales company, Infotainment is emerging as a smart and durable player at markets and is next seeking to beef up its role as Chinese co-producer for inbound foreign pictures
Key title: “Kungfu Cyborg”
China’s answer to “Transformers,” pic is a big, f/x-laden title produced by LeTV on a $10 million budget and aimed firmly at the Chinese youth that lapped up the last robot film to be released in China.
Golden Network (Hong Kong)
Golden Network has for years existed on its wits as a specialist sales house with a strong accent on discovery titles. After a successful Berlin market, Golden Network’s current slate reflects the links it has nurtured with producers in Thailand, China, Korea and, increasingly, in animation.
Key title: “Fireball”
Action drama helmed by Thanakorn Pongsuwan sees an ex-con infiltrate the underground world of “combat basketball” to discover how his twin brother ended up in a coma. Pic is now on course for sequel and remake treatment and will be released in North America by Grindstone through Lionsgate.
Fortissimo Films (Hong Kong-Amsterdam)
Indie sales house can take credit for championing Asian arthouse pics at festivals and through distributors around the world for more than a decade. Company has significantly broadened its mandate with documentaries, world cinema and titles from bigger-name helmers.
Key product: “Face”
Maverick Taiwanese helmer Tsai Ming-liang returns to France with a fantasy drama about a foreign filmmaker struggling against linguistic barriers and the ego and mental health problems of his superstar cast. Tsai’s glitzy talent lineup includes Jean-Pierre Leaud, Laetitia Casta, Jeanne Moreau, Mathieu Almaric and Fanny Ardant.