China’s Huayi Brothers Media has teamed with “Batman” producer Michael Uslan to launch a film and TV franchise based on the “Thunder Agents” comic book series.
Uslan announced the pact and the projects at a panel discussion during New York Comic Con this weekend. He and Huayi, China’s largest private sector film conglomerate, later held a launch party at the United Nations, which is also a partner on the package, along with Florida firm CEA Group, and graphic novels house IDW Publishing. United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon provided a skit by video link.
The “Thunder Agents” comic series was created by Wally Wood and was popular in the 1960s when it was published by Tower Comics. Thunder is the acronym for a fictional group of peace keepers known as ‘The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves.’ The elite group is selected from ordinary people, and benefit from high-tech equipment that help agents become super powers, and wage war against evil.
The first movie is intended for 2018 delivery. Scriptwriters Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton have been hired to pen the screenplay.
“Huayi are full partners at the table, engaged creatively and in business terms,” said Uslan in a speech at the U.N. Uslan said he had spent two years engaging with Huayi building trust, before attempting to thrash out the details of the financing and production deals.
Huayi said described its role as “co-producer, investor and IP owner,” adding that it will enjoy “a proportional share of the global revenues.”
“Taking into account such elements as the superhero concept, and the story of the United Nations agents, we believe that this IP on a global scale have to have great commercial value,” said James Wang, co-chief of Huayi. “It also creates the space that will allow us to integrate Chinese elements as co-productions.”
“This is a paradigm shift for Hollywood, a dynamic change in the way that films and TV can be made. One that recognizes that we no longer focus on America, but live in a global village,” said Uslan.
Uslan also announced that comic books legend Stan Lee will make a cameo appearance in the “Thunder Agents” movie, which Uslan said would be Lee’s first in a non-Marvel movie.
Huayi Brothers earlier this year struck another deal with North American partners. It inked an 18-movie co-financing deal with STX Entertainment.
Uslan has been busy developing relationships in Asia. He previously signed a four film development deal with China’s Huace Group to deliver movies in the action, adventure and animation genres. And earlier this month he and his son David agreed to represent a package of webtoons from Korea’s Rollingstory for adaptation as live action feature movies.