YooZoo Bliss Film Fund is financing a big-screen version of the $100 million-plus grossing online fantasy game “League of Angels,” and is in talks to co-finance another English-language feature, “The Dark Forest,” a sequel to the Hugo Award-winning sci-fi bestseller “The Three-Body Problem.”
The new $100 million Chinese equity fund, which is backing the Michael Mann/Christian Bale automaker biopic “Enzo Ferrari” recently nabbed by Paramount, will produce the projects through its Shanghai-based parents YooZoo Pictures and Bliss Media, and the recently launched L.A.-based YooZoo Pictures U.S.
“League” is part of the fund’s goal to finance 10 Chinese co-productions for the global marketplace in the next five years.
The companies aim to develop similar projects based on the extensive online game IP library of founder Youzu Interactive, which has a reported market cap of nearly $4.5 billion.
“Forest” will be filmed on the heels of their $25 million Chinese-language “Three-Body” adaptation, which is now in post-production and set to hit theaters by early 2017.
“During AFM, I think we’ll select the right [studio] partner to make (our release of) ‘The Three-Body Problem’ as global as the book,” said YooZoo Pictures/Bliss Media head Wei Han, who manages the fund with Youzu Interactive founder Lin Qi. Since the 2008 novel won its Hugo Award after it was translated to English in 2014, she say,s they are also exploring the option of remaking “Three-Body” as a new English-language feature.
The China-born Han is an investment banking vet who launched a hedge fund with MBA pals from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management in 2006. She got her start in the business by helping raise $23 million toward “The Moon and the Sun” from Chinese investors. (The Pierce Brosnan-toplined sci-fi fantasy was dropped from Paramount’s slate in March, and she’s now in talks with a major distrib she hopes to announce this year.)
Han is developing “The Dragon and the Phoenix,” an action film in the script stage that’s seeking a director, and she hopes to close more film deals in the coming weeks. Lionsgate is also partnering with YooZoo on Mel Gibson-helmed war drama “Hacksaw Ridge” (now in production), which the company will release in China.
“We’re very unique as financiers because we have Chinese distribution, with a staff of 70 people in Shanghai, whereas a lot of others can’t really add that value for a filmmaker,” Han said. “I know people from both cultures (in the U.S. and China), and I’d like to be a bridge between them.”