Sony has picked up North American and multi-territory rights to hugely anticipated Chinese movie “Journey to the West: Demon Chapter.” The film is a rare collaboration between action comedy-king Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer,” “Kung Fu Hustle”) as producer, and fantasy specialist Tsui Hark (“The Black Mast,” “Once Upon a Time in China”) as director.
English-language territories covered by the deal include the U.S. and Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The studio also gains rights in much of Asia outside China. They include Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
The film is a sequel to the Chow-directed “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” which was released in 2013 and grossed a global $215 million. It was a loose fantasy comedy reinterpretation of the classic Chinese tale “Journey to the West.”
Confirmation of the deal was announced at the CineAsia convention in Hong Kong by Stephen O’Dell, president of international releasing for SPRI. The deal was brokered through Sony Pictures International Productions, the studio’s local-language production venture.
“Journey to the West: Demon Chapter” is produced by Chow’s Star Overseas company and by Alibaba Pictures Group, with a reported budget of over $60 million. It is currently set for a release in China on Jan. 28, 2017, the first day of the Chinese New Year holiday. Chow ruled this year’s Chinese New Year with his “The Mermaid,” which grossed over $530 million to become the highest grossing film of all time in China.
O’Dell described the pickup and an increase in local production, as part of a two year effort by Sony Pictures Entertainment under the leadership Tom Rothman to make the studio more relevant to Asian audiences.
The Sony presentation in Hong Kong rounded with Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson on stage to introduce “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.” The pair returned moments later to help present a lifetime achievement award to Sony Pictures’ soon-to-retire Japan head Noriaki “Dick” Sano.