China's most expensive pic moves toward post

BEIJING — Producer Jon Jiang introduced his 3D underwater actioner “Empires of the Deep” to the Chinese media Tuesday and said the U.S.-China co-production will be China’s most expensive movie ever with a budget of $130 million.

Real estate mogul Jiang is one of China’s richest men and “Empires” marks his bow as a producer. He also wrote the script and has been involved in every step of the production, which he sees as the first genuine contender for an international-scale movie made in China.

“This is a Hollywood-style movie. The budget for this film is definitely $100 million but it’s for sure that we will invest more. The final figure will be around $130 million, part of it from my own funds and part of it E-Magine Studio,” Jiang said a news conference at the Huairou production base near Beijing.

The movie has been lensing around China for six months, and is helmed by Canadian Michael French. The pic has had a number of helmers involved, including Jonathan Lawrence and “Vidocq” director Pitof, and has one month left to go, before starting a year of post-production for a 2011 release, either in the summer or at Christmas.

“Avatar has opened a new era for film market. So I think we must keep up with this new trend. This film is a Hollywood film. There will be no pre-sales in other countries. We will share income of the film accordingly with local distributors in countries around the world,” Jiang said.

The movie is seen as the first in a series and Jiang said the second instalment has been scripted and the third is in treatment.

Anthony Arendt, part of the team behind the 3D work on “Avatar,” is consulting with the producers on stereography.

One of the film’s stars, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, attended the event dressed as a mermaid (she plays a mermaid queen in the movie). Pic also features Steve Polites from “The Murder Game.”

Pic is using more than 10 stages at the Huairou studios, as well as shooting in Fujian province and Greece.

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