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China’s Bona Film Teams With Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8 on ‘Overheard’ Remake

HONG KONG – China’s Bona Film Group has pacted with Jeff Robinov’s new Studio 8 outfit to produce an English-language version of Chinese-language thriller “Overheard.”

The film is among three titles understood to form part of Studio 8’s debut slate.

Bona and Studio 8 have a common shareholder in Chinese conglomerate Fosun International, which is a founder investor in Studio 8 and is the second largest owner of publicly-traded Bona.

Robinov was head of Warner Brothers at the time the studio backed Martin Scorsese’s “Departed,” a remake of another Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs.”

“The strategic relationship is really important here,” said Bona’s COO Jeffrey Chan, who was at Media Asia at the time of “Departed,” and who will be a producer on the “Overheard” remake. “And so too are the past relationships between the film-makers and Jeff Robinov, and the creative package.”

“Overheard,” which starts with a Hong Kong commercial crime task force eavesdropping on a publicly traded company, develops into a full blown action drama as police corruption and murder become part of the complex equation. It was written and directed by Alan Mak and Felix Chong, two of the three main creatives on “Infernal Affairs,” and was released in 2009.

“The idea is to make a great film for a global audience, with Bona as an investor. That means that making it as a full Chinese co-production is not a requirement of the agreement. Similarly, having Sony as Studio 8’s distribution partner was another very important consideration for us, as it gives this project a worldwide distribution platform from day one,” said Chan.

Chan said that the companies are currently seeking a screenwriter who shares their vision of the project and that ideally they would have it produced by 2017.

Sony is expected to have worldwide distribution, with the exception of Greater China (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan) which Bona will carve out for itself. Bona will also retain rights to make other spin offs and sequels.

“Overheard” has already become a successful franchise with two sequels released in 2011 and 2014.

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