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Huayi pushing int’l auds to sample ‘Banquet’ pic

Historical epic expected to bow in September

Shooting has wrapped on $20 million historical epic “The Banquet,” produced by the Huayi Brothers and Hong Kong’s Media Asia.

Pic stars Ziyi Zhang, now China’s most famous thesp since “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers.” Her agreement to star in “The Banquet” prompted a rewrite of the story, loosely based on “Hamlet,” to give her character a bigger role.

Huayi Brothers, fast emerging as China’s busiest production house, is on a determined hunt for international B.O., and it’s using some of the biggest names in the Chinese biz to woo foreign auds.

Helmer Feng Xiaogang has had success in China with domestic hits “Big Shot’s Funeral” and “Cell Phone,” but Huayi hopes “The Banquet” will splash with a wider aud.

Hong Kong’s Daniel Wu, a crowd-puller in China, is making his mainland film debut. Pic also features popular Chinese comedian Ge You and rising thesp Zhou Xun. Legendary Hong Kong martial arts master Yuen Wo-ping choreographed the movie.

“The Banquet” is expected to bow in September.

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