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Media Asia Grabs China Rights to Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’

Hong Kong-based film and talent group Media Asia has acquired rights for mainland China to upcoming Martin Scorsese film “The Irishman.”

The film, to star Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, will shoot from next year and get a U.S. release through Paramount Pictures in 2018. It is written by “Schindler’s List” screenwriter Steve Zaillian.

Media Asia acquired the rights from STX Entertainment. STX picked up international rights to the film at Cannes this year, where the $50 million pickup was one of the biggest deals of the festival and rights market.

No release date is set for China. The completed film will have to pass censorship and receive an import permit. Early indications are that it would be imported on a minimum guarantee basis with the possibility of revenue sharing.

The Irishman” is based on the Charles Brandt book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” which is the deathbed confession from mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran about his role in the disappearance and death of Jimmy Hoffa.

The $100 million project was pulled out of turnaround at Paramount in time for Cannes by Mexican producer Gaston Pavlovich’s Fabrica de Cine. Fabrica is also a producer on Scorsese’s “Silence” which is now in post-production after a shoot that predominantly took place in Taiwan.

“We are as honores as we are excited to have the opportunity to bring this prestigious project to the audience in China,” said Media Asia’s Frederick Tsui, who negotiated the deal with STX’s John Friedberg. “the film has every indication to become a magnum opus that will go down in history as one of the best gangster flicks ever made.”

STX has multiple connections with China, including a finance and distribution deal with Huayi Brothers. Recently it announced investments from China’s Tencent and from Hong Kong’s PCCW. “The Irishman,” however, is represented but not produced by STX and therefore falls outside its distribution deal with Huayi.

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