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Ron Shelton, Walt Becker Tapped to Direct ‘Flying Tigers’

Rex Media behind WWII tale being sold as movies and a miniseries set and filmed in China and the U.S.

Ron Shelton and Walt Becker are set as directors on “Flying Tigers,” a $70 million action drama about the American volunteer pilots who fought in defense of China in WWII.

Pitched at AFM by Rex Media, “Tigers” will be formatted as a 10-hour TV miniseries in the U.S. and several territories and as three feature films for theatrical release in China and certain other markets.

“Tigers” was written by William J. “Bill” Macdonald, co-creator and writer of HBO’s “Rome.”

Filming is scheduled to start next summer on locations in China and Louisiana, with a first-season release planned for summer 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Aside from Shelton and Becker, Ralph Hemecker (“Silk Stalkings”) and John Luessenhop (“Texas Chainsaw 3D”) will also share helming duties.

The production is financed by Motion Media Group and ESR Financial Management, a U.K. film fund headed by Barry Fromson, who is one of the executive producers.

Other exec producers are Macdonald, Rex Media’s George Lascu, Marcus Morton and Shelton. Line producers are Emmy Award-winning executive producer Bill Borden (“High School Musical”), Tom Reeve (“Dog Soldiers”) and Bill Kong, head of Hong Kong and China’s Edko Films.

The Rex Media project could find itself in a dogfight with John Woo, who has also been nurturing a Tigers project. That film is set up through Woo and Terence Chang’s Lion Rock Prods. as a two-part film and six-part miniseries. In April it was announced that Lion Rock had attracted China Film Group and Dasym Media (formerly Cyrte Investments) as partners and that Woo would shoot beginning in early 2014.

The Flying Tigers were ace American Volunteer Group pilots who served under Gen. Claire Chennault. Despite their name, the Tigers painted the fuselages of their P-40 aircraft with shark’s teeth, which became one of the most iconic military symbols from WWII. In China, visitors can pay tribute to the airmen at the Flying Tigers Heritage Park in Guilan.

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