×

China’s Huayi Brothers Sets Superhero Franchise Pact With Michael Uslan

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.

Popular on Variety

“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.

More Film

  • They Call Me Dr. Miami

    Berlin: Cargo Film's Plastic Surgery Doc 'They Call Me Dr. Miami' Unveils Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety can exclusively reveal the trailer for “Playing Hard” director Jean-Simon Chartier’s feature documentary “They Call Me Dr. Miami,” which is being shopped to buyers at the EFM this week. Commissioned by Documentary Channel and set to bow at the Miami International Film Festival next month, the film follows Dr. Michael Salzhauer — also known [...]

  • The Call of the Wild

    Harrison Ford's 'Call of the Wild' Battles 'Sonic the Hedgehog' at Box Office

    “Sonic the Hedgehog” will have to worry about more than just a waxy mustached villain this weekend. Paramount’s family film will face box office competition from another kid-friendly adventure, Disney and 20th Century’s “The Call of the Wild.” Harrison Ford and a dog named Buck star in “The Call of the Wild,” the latest big-screen adaptation [...]

  • The Call of the Wild

    'Call of the Wild' Composer on How Music Became Protagonist Dog's Voice

    Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” ranks as one of the most famous books about a canine ever written. So director Chris Sanders knew that the composer of his film adaptation simply had to be a dog lover. Luckily, Sanders’ “How to Train Your Dragon” composer, John Powell, has two standard poodles. And when [...]

  • Terms and Conditions

    YouTube Drives Into Feature Doc Space With Brian Hill's 'Terms and Conditions' (EXCLUSIVE)

    YouTube is driving into the feature documentary space with a bold new film on drill music from one of the U.K.’s most celebrated documentarians. The controversial genre represented in the Brian Hill-directed “Terms and Conditions: A U.K. Drill Story” has become inadvertently associated with violence and knife-crime in the U.K., and marks a daring step [...]

  • Jennifer Lawrence Adam McKay

    Jennifer Lawrence to Star in Adam McKay's Netflix Comedy 'Don't Look Up'

    Jennifer Lawrence will star in Adam McKay’s upcoming film “Don’t Look Up,” a comedy set to debut on Netflix later this year. The movie, also written by McKay, follows two low-level astronomers who embark on media tour to warn mankind of an approaching asteroid that will destroy planet Earth. “I’m so thrilled to make this [...]

  • UK Producers Roundtable co-founder Loran Dunn

    Why the U.K.'s Struggling Indie Film Business Is Only Getting Tougher

    A startling one-two punch of new statistics from the British Film Institute and industry body U.K. Producers’ Roundtable have revealed the stark challenges facing the country’s independent filmmakers.  After a BFI study published in late January revealed that spending on U.K. independent film production fell by 45% to £175 million ($228 million) in 2019, a [...]

  • Geena DavisVanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals,

    Universal Pictures Partners With Geena Davis Institute to Improve Latinx Representation

    Universal Pictures announced a one-year partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to improve on-screen representation and casting opportunities for the Latinx community. The program, titled Spellcheck for Bias, is being developed to analyze scripts, manuscripts and advertising briefs to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content