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Vicky Zhao to Direct Animated ‘My Fair Princess’ for Alibaba Pictures

Leading Chinese actress and director Vicky Zhao Wei is to direct an animated feature film version of “My Fair Princess,” the show that made her a star. Production will be through Alibaba Pictures Group, the film production and investment arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Zhao was the star of the 1990s period drama show that is arguably one of the most commercially-successful Chinese-produced TV series of all time. The show in which an orphaned girl unexpectedly rises to become royalty, was widely exported within Asia.

The show propelled Zhao and co-star Fan Bingbing to celebrity. It was jointly produced by Taiwan’s Yi Ren Communications and China’s Hunan Broadcasting, a production which helped Hunan to become one of China’s biggest TV groups.

Alibaba Pictures confirmed the information in emails to Variety.

Zhao who was star of “Shaolin Soccer,” Red Cliff,” and “Painted Skin,” switched tack and in 2014 directed hit drama film “So Young.”

She is also one of Alibaba Pictures’ largest shareholders. Together with her husband, Zhao owns 1.93 billion shares, or a 9.3% stake, in Alibaba Pictures. At current share prices, that holding is worth US$410 million (HK$3.20 billion).

Alibaba Pictures is assembling a slate that mixes up live action and animated films. It was recently a minority backer of “Little Door Gods,” the first feature to flow from Light Chaser Animation. The film was released on Jan. 1, 2016 and has so far grossed $12 million in mainland theaters. It is also backing the “The Ferryman” being produced by Wong Kar-wai’ s Jet Tone Films.

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