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Chen Kaige's martial arts drama 'The Monk' slotted for summer 2015 release

Columbia Pictures is beefing up its presence in China striking partnerships with prominent local filmmakers, as well as entering into split-rights agreements with mainland production companies.

Chief among Col’s newly struck filmmaker relationships is with “Farewell My Concubine” director Chen Kaige, who just started production on his martial arts action film “The Monk,” which is set for release summer 2015 via New Classics Media in China and by Sony Pictures Intl. throughout the rest of the world.

“Columbia Pictures is reemphasizing our long established commitment to Chinese local language production,” said Col prexy Doug Belgrad. “We are delighted to be collaborating with such world class filmmakers as Chen Kaige and Jiang Wen, as well as partnering with esteemed Chinese┬áproduction companies like New Classics Media, as we ramp up our activity in China.”

Based on the bestselling novel “Dao Shi Xia Shan” (“A Monk Comes Down the Mountain”), “Monk” stars Wang Baoqiang, who recently starred in the Chinese box office hit “Lost in Thailand,” as a young monk skillfully trained in martial arts, who is forced to leave his monastery and survive in the outside world.

In addition to “The Monk,” Col has finalized a deal with New Classics Media for a Chinese-language re-make of “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” with a December 2014 production start date.

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