Rights to the film are being offered for the first time at FilMart by Le Vision, the film arm of the LeTV online video group whose “big data” resources helped steer the “Tiny Times” franchise releases.
The film has many of the ingredients of the biggest recent hits in China, and already boasts a massive online following.
Le Vision, which handled the release of the “Tiny Times” movies and is also producer and investor, is confidently forecasting that “Sunshine” will gross over RMB700 million ($115 million) following a wide release on May 1, a national holiday in China.
The company will be positioning “Sunshine” as a contemporary Chinese take on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The film’s story follows two university students who fall in love on campus, but are forced to part ways because of a series of obstacles, family objections and misunderstandings.
“Sunshine” is the first feature by Yang Wenjun, one of China’s top TV series directors (“Divorce Lawyer”) and Huang bin.
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Like “Tiny Times,” “So Young,” “Fleet of Time” and other recent hits, “Sunshine” is a feature adaptation of a hit Internet novel. Penned by female writer Gu Man, who now has a huge online following on Sina Weibo, and published in instalments over two years starting in 2003, the online book of the same title collected 29 million fan points (‘likes’) on the JinJiang Literature Network.
In print form, it has been a consistent seller over 10 years, and has been reprinted 52 times.
“Sunshine” proved its mettle earlier this year when released as an online drama series starring Tiffany Tang and Wallace Chung. Le Vision reports that its ratings exceeded recent hits “My Love From the Star” and “Sword of Legends.”
The romance genre is currently proving exceptionally attractive to Chinese theatrical audiences, with recent smashes including “Finding Mr Right,” “So Young” (also directed by another first timer, Vicky Zhao Wei), and “Fleet of Time.”
Huang and Yang are among the top stars of a new generation of local screen actor emerging from China. Huang has credits that include “The Crossing,” “American Dreams in China,” and “The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom.” Yang, returning to the screen after having a child, was star of “Tiny Times,” “The Breakup Guru,” and “Painte Skin: The Resurrection.”
The cast also includes Tong Dawei (“American Dreams in China,” “Dearest” “The Flowers of War”) and Joan Chen (“The Last Emperor” “Twin Peaks”). Glossy overseas locations included San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge area.
“We are not positioning it as a franchise film, but we believe that its more uplifting ending will help it win over other films in the same genre,” a Le Vision spokesman told Variety. “It is a uniquely Chinese version that will satisfy audiences’ desires for a story about pure romantic love that survives across time.”