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Sundream ramps up production

Movie unit expands into international sales, video

Sundream Motion Pictures is ramping up its business beyond production for 2007.

Sundream, which launched in 2005 as a movie division of i-Cable’s paybox Cable TV, released four films last year:  “A Battle of Wits,” “Nothing Is Impossible,” “49 Days” and “Twins Mission.”

Now, Sundream is its own subsid of i-Cable and is expanding its horizons to international film sales and video distribution, as well as theatrical distribution for Hong Kong.

Handling all aspects of distribution is Otto Leong, VP for distribution for both Sundream and Cable TV. Hong Kong’s Filmart, which runs March 20-23, will be Leong’s first market for Sundream.

The focus at Filmart will be “Eye in the Sky,” helmed by Yau Nai-hoi and produced by Johnnie To. Pic preemed in Berlin’s Forum section and will have its Asian premiere at the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival.

Other pics on Sundream’s slate include Johnnie To’s “Linger,” a China co-production with Sil-Metropole. Romantic drama, for which shooting has wrapped, stars Li Bingbing and Vic Chou (of boy band F4).

“Linger” will probably launch at Cannes, said Tom Cheung, VP of business development.

Production on “Howling Arrow,” helmed by Sammo Hung, who also stars, was pushed back to accommodate the schedules of Hung and actors; shooting will start in September or October. The $16 million co-production with China’s Huayi Brothers is a tribute to martial arts set in northeast China during the late Qing dynasty.

Projects in development include another by Yau — a thriller in the Hitchcock vein– that will be produced by To. Budget is $1.5 million-$1.9 million. Pic, which has only a Chinese working title, will begin shooting this year.

Law Wing-cheong (“2 Become 1”) also will shoot a film this year produced by To. The black comedy will have the same budget as Yau’s film.

Sundream also has a pic about a court case during the Qing Dynasty. The $2.5 million-$3 million film should begin shooting in May or June this year. The director is still being confirmed, Cheung said.

These three pics will all be China co-productions, but partners haven’t yet been chosen.

For the last two projects of the year, Sundream is bringing in a Taiwan director and a mainland Chinese director to work on separate Hong Kong productions.

Aim is to see if they have new ideas to inject into Hong Kong production, Cheung said. “Instead of limiting ourselves within Hong Kong, we want to have a broader view of the Greater China territory.”

While Sundream is plugging into other avenues of the film business, it’s concentrating only on its own films for distribution. Company is trying “to get more experience first” before taking on other pics, Cheung said.

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