Director Renny Harlin, who has made three movies in China and taken up residence in Beijing, is setting up a new China-based production and finance company, Extraordinary Entertainment, in partnership with producer Daljit DJ Parmar (“Kung Fu Yoga”).
Extraordinary Entertainment will have bases in Beijing and Hong Kong, and focus on developing international co-productions, as well as local-language Chinese content. Its pipeline is intended to be filled with action, sci-fi and comedy-adventure movies budgeted in the range of $10 million to $50 million, and New Age, premium and scripted series for TV and online. Parmar is CEO, while Harlin is the company’s chief creative officer.
The company has financial backing from Chinese strategic investors, mostly institutions and high-net-worth individuals. Talent agency UTA will represent the new company globally, including Harlin and Parmar.
The first announced feature, “Solara,” will see Harlin direct and produce with Parmar. “Solara” is a Mandarin-language sci-fi epic revolving around an international team working to save the Earth and the human race from a global catastrophe. The film was hatched by the writing team of Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (“London Has Fallen,” “Expendables 3,” “Olympus Has Fallen”).
“We are using Hollywood writers for experience, story and structure, and then will team up with Chinese writers to adapt after, as Renny has often done with his films,” Parmar told Variety. He declined to give specifics about the scale of budget or international rights, indicating that either a sale to a Hollywood studio or to an indie company are still possible.
“We want to create top-quality entertainment for a Chinese audience and reach out to the international market with co-productions that authentically portray the Chinese spirit, heart and soul,” Harlin said in a statement. Other projects are being developed, but were not disclosed.
Harlin recently directed comedy-adventure “Skiptrace,” starring Jackie Chan, which grossed about $137 million in China. He is currently in post-production on one of the biggest-ever adaptations of a Chinese video game, “The Legend of the Ancient Sword,” for Alibaba Pictures, and the action thriller “Bodies at Rest” for Wanda Pictures.
“’Solara’ is an exciting example where we have developed a tentpole film catered for China with the potential to have success globally,” Parmar said. “We will cater to the growing demand from Chinese audiences for universal stories that are commercial and explore cultural diversity, promoting intercultural understanding.”
Both Harlin and Parmar are expected to pitch the new company and projects in Cannes.