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China province pacts with H’wood on ‘Outcast’

The local government in the Chinese province of Yunnan is linking up with Hollywood to make a co-production called “Outcast” featuring thesps Hayden Christensen and Nicolas Cage, and helmed by Nick Powell, the stunt and fight coordinator on the “Bourne” franchise.

Powell and Christensen were in Beijing to launch the pic, which is a co-production between Yunnan Film Group and a yet-to-be-announced Hollywood partner. Easternlight, the Asian arm of Arclight, will be international sales on the project, and Arclight topper Gary Hamilton also attended the news conference.

Pic is being supported by the Yunnan provincial government, and is being filmed entirely in the southwestern province, which is one of China’s most spectacular regions.

Yunnan Film Group was established in 2010 and has already backed 10 movies, including the propaganda epic “Founding of a Party,” “Wu Xia” and more recently “Bait 3D,” which has taken more than $24 million B.O. in China.

YFG prexy Zhang Lun said that the local government hoped the movie would have international appeal.

“We hope that by cooperating with Hollywood we can promote Chinese films and bring them to the world,” said Zhang.

There has been a positive response already from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, which decides whether movies get co-production status or not.

“We hope there will be more cooperation like this, making great movies (about) Chinese culture, I hope this movie can act as a good example,” said Zhang Hongsen, vice head of SARFT’s Film Bureau.

Actioner will tell of 12th century crusaders in east Asia, and their relationships with a Chinese prince and princess.

“I was really excited when I read the script; I want to do something different,” said Christensen, who has already grown a beard to prepare for his part. Pic is due to start shooting in April 2013.

Powell spoke of how he hoped the film would reflect Chinese culture in the way “Braveheart” reflected Scottish history and “Gladiator” had a Roman background. He will come to China in January to hunt locations.

Hamilton said he believed the next stage of development for the Chinese film market would be expansion internationally. “Outcast”

would be important domestically, but would also have international appeal, he said.

Co-productions are the vehicle of choice for getting movies into China. Full co-productions are treated as domestic films, and do not fall under the import quota. They stand a much stronger chance of getting a mainland release, have immunity from blackout periods and generate a greater revenue share for producers and distribs.

But some projects like “Iron Man 3” are reportedly still coming up short of co-production status, and others are failing to be recognized as the genuine article by an increasingly suspicious China Film Bureau.

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