Shanghai pacts for basketball-themed films

The NBA is playing ball with China, striking a multiyear partnership with Shanghai Film Group to make NBA-themed movies. Production is already underway on their first pic together: “Amazing,” a Mandarin-language feature with an international cast including U.S. basketball stars Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.

Talks are also under way with other NBA stars to appear in the movie.

Deal is SFG’s first with a U.S. sports league and the NBA’s first with a movie partner outside the U.S.

Emilio Collins, senior VP, global marketing partnerships for the NBA, told Variety: “We’ve had a number of movie partnerships in the U.S. and we’ve been using entertainment as a critical way to engage our fans. Now we’re applying the same philosophy internationally.”

“Amazing” is skedded for a summer 2011 preem. Pic is being made for Chinese auds, but Collins said it’s possible they will seek U.S. distribution “if we decide it has broader appeal.”

Helmer is Hu Xuehua, a thesp and veteran director of films, TV and legit who is better known in the U.S. as Sherwood Hu. Hu’s feature credits include “Lanai-Loa” and “Prince of the Himalayas.”

Also set to appear in the pic are Chinese star Huang Xiaoming, Korean actress Kim A. Joong and American thesp Eric Mabius (“Ugly Betty”). Mabius, Anthony and Howard are the only Americans in the cast.

Howard’s scenes are already completed. He and Anthony, playing themselves, will perform in English; their dialogue will be subtitled.

Lensing began Aug. 17 and will continue through November in Beijing, Shanghai and New York.

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