Chinese helmer ends relationship with producer Zhang Weiping
BEIJING — China’s most prominent helmer Zhang Yimou was named artistic director of the private Chinese shingle Le Vision Pictures at a gala event in Beijing on Monday. He will also oversee a new in-house production fund.
“Signing with Le Vision Pictures symbolizes the end of my long period of irregular and disordered cooperation, and the start of a new cooperation with a professional team,” Zhang told a press conference at the Park Hyatt in Beijing.
News that Zhang is joining Le Vision officially brings to an end Zhang’s relationship with his longtime collaborator and producer Zhang Weiping, after the two parted ways amid differences over the Christian Bale-starrer “The Flowers of War,” which did less than stellar B.O. in China.
“I hope that this new mode will bring me more creative space, more colorful creative inspiration and more creative support, and helps me avoid negative interference, and devote all my efforts to work,” said Zhang.
The appointment marks a real coup for Le Vision Pictures, which is the two-year-old film wing of the online film and TV portal LeTV, and propels the shingle in the big league of private Chinese film studios.
Zhang was presented by Le Vision Pictures topper Zhang Zhao, who spoke of how much he had admired the “Hero” and “Raise the Red Lantern” helmer since he was a student.
The ceremony included a stirring biopic of the helmer, with scenes from some of his best-known work, such as “House of Flying Daggers,” and tributes to the role Zhang played in creating the careers of thesps Zhang Ziyi and Gong Li.
Zhang’s career arc has seen him move from banned director of lustrous arthouse fare, such as his debut as director, “Red Sorghum,” which won him serious kudos on the fest circuit, but was banned in China, to helming stirring nationalist epics such as “Hero.”
His rehabilitation during the former government under Hu Jintao was complete when he choreographed the 2008 Olympics opening spectacle.
The company’s website has a complete section dedicated to his movies, showing all of “The Flowers of War,” and his back-catalog will be released on SuperTV, the company’s smart TV sets developed with Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, due to bow next month.
Zhang has been in the news in China for reasons other than his art recently, after reports that China’s population planners are investigating claims that he sired numerous children — possibly seven — in violation of the One Child Policy.
Zhang recently invested in and distributed in China “The Expendables 2.” Even though Le Vision tried and failed with Lionsgate to register “The Expendables 2” as a Chinese co-production, a novel marketing and distribution effort meant he took a hefty share of the $54.5 million the pic took in China.