Taiwan-born Justin Lin has made his first film in Asia since becoming a Hollywood sensation as director and producer of several of the “Fast & Furious” franchise movies.
Lin is producer, alongside Chinese media tycoon Bruno Wu, on “Hollywood Adventures,” which released in China late last week and was the world’s fifth biggest movie this weekend according to Rentrak, with a $26 million opening.
In 2012 Lin and Wu formed a joint venture company, Perfect Storm Entertainment, which produced the picture alongside China’s Enlight Pictures. Enlight is also the distributor in China.
The film is an unusual hybrid and may be a model of things to come from China.
While the movie starred A-list Chinese talent including Zhao Wei and Huang Xiaoming, most of the crew, including director Timothy Kendall, and the writers, were American.
Hollywood’s Sung Kang from “Fast & Furious” plays a supporting role. Others making appearances include Robert Patrick, Simon Helberg (“Big Bang Theory”) and Kat Dennings (“2 Broke Girls”).
Similarly, aside from a few days in Beijing, most of the 40-day shoot took place in locations in and around Los Angeles.
“Justin was very excited about having a movie that still had a Western sensibility but was for the Chinese audience,” said Troy Craig Poon, president of Perfect Storm. He has collaborated with Lin since early indie hit “Better Luck Tomorrow.” “We took our time to find the right project because we want to find the right story that will connect with the Chinese audience,” he told Variety.
The summer blockbuster tells the story of three Chinese tourists who embark on a hell-raising tour in Hollywood. Exhilarating car chase scenes, explosions and noisy nightclubs filled the film’s trailers.
“It’s a mix of comedy, action and romance,” said Kendall, who used to direct commercials, and is now making his feature-directing debut with “Adventures.”
Kendall says that the cultural differences made it a challenge to deliver a comedy for Chinese audiences. “We originally started with a team of writers that wrote an American version of what we thought would work,” he said. But later Enlight helped out with many scenes. “They took things [jokes] that worked in English, but which they didn’t quite understand in Chinese, and then kind of found a way where it works in both,” he said.
“It’s very important for us to make sure that, if we find something funny, the Chinese audience will find it funny too,” said Poon. “It takes a lot of communication to try and figure out what aspect the audience might like.”
How much it cost to make remains murky. U.S. media and the film’s bank financier have both reported the budget as costing $30 million. But sources close to Perfect Storm told Variety: “That was an incorrect number that somebody exaggerated to the papers. We were nowhere close to that.”
So far, “Hollywood Adventures” has confirmed release dates in China and Hong Kong only, but others are likely to be added. IM Global is handling international sales outside of North American and Southeast Asia. Perfect Storm, handling other territories, is in negotiations with other parties, and a Netflix release remains a possibility.