Upcoming Nu Image / Millennium movies “Expendables 4” and “Security” are headed for China. That follows deals with Steven Paul’s SP International Pictures on behalf of SSXH Beijing and Max Screen Film Distribution.
The deals cover equity investments in both films and provide Chinese distribution rights. Both movies may use China as a location for some scenes, though it is not expected that there will be enough Chinese elements for them to be considered as full co-productions.
Action thriller, “Security” is now beginning production in Bulgaria at Nu Image studios. It will star Antonio Banderas (“The Mask of Zorro,” “Desperado”) and Ben Kingsley (“Gandhi,” “Schindler’s List”) under the direction of Alain Desrochers (“Nitro”). The budget is pegged at $15m.
“Expendables 4” will shoot in 2016 and be delivered in 2017. Neither director nor cast have yet been announced, though the picture is expected to have maintain its all-action star formula. It is to be produced on a budget of over $100 million.
The twin China deals involve a transaction in excess of $25 million. They were negotiated between Avi Lerner, Trevor Short and Jeffrey Greenstein for Nu Image and Steven Paul and SPIP on behalf of SSXH and Max Screen Beijing.
Dr. Shi Jianxiang, chairman of Shanghai Kuailu Investment Group, which owns SSXH and Max Screen, and Steven Paul (“Ghost Rider,” “Baby Geniuses,” “Tekken”) will be credited as executive producers on both pictures. Dr. Shi was part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s recent delegation to the U.S.
The “Expendables” franchise films have proved some of the most successful independent pictures in the Chinese market. “Expendables 3” grossed $39.2 million in North America where it was handled by Lions Gate Films, but $78 million in China.
“What seems to work in their favour in China, is that these movies are good old-fashioned shoot ’em up entertainment,” Paul told Variety.
Paul’s SPI, which has a distribution arrangement with Sony Pictures, has become one of the most active Hollywood independent companies in China. In Cannes SPI announced deals Financing City and C2M from China on “High Speed” and the latest instalment in Paul’s “Tekken” franchise. In July SPI also announced a financial partnership in Thailand with Good Times Films and prominent Thai businessman Pimol Srivkorn (“Tekken: Kazuya’s Revenge.)