One Cool Pictures, the Hong Kong sales and production company that involves Louis Koo as an investor, is making a massive step up in scale. It is launching four movies with a combined budget of over $130 million (HK$1.01 billion).
Koo will star in both “Back to the Past” and “Warriors of the Future,” which the company launched at FilMart on Monday. At the Hong Kong market, the company is also showing teasers of “The Trough,” which was written and directed by Nick Cheung. Cheung also stars alongside Chinese actress Xu Jinglei.
To be directed by Ng Yuen-fai, “Back to the Past” is a period action film in which the richest man in Hong Kong attempts to go back in time to rescue his son, whose earlier trip into the past went disastrously wrong. Production on a $45 million budget is set to begin in the third quarter of this year. Raymond Lam and Jessica Hsuan co-star.
Already in post-production, “Warriors of the Future” is a sci-fi actioner also directed by Ng, on a budget of $56 million. The story follows a race of unusual people who have the ability to suck up human pollution, and who arrive on earth after a meteorite crash. Hong Kong veterans Sean Lau and Carina Lau also star. A major release is anticipated in early 2019.
Koo is one of Hong Kong’s best loved stars, known for his good looks and high work rate – and, despite a 20-year career, he appears to be growing as an actor. This weekend he won the best acting prize at the Asian Film Awards for “Paradox,” a Hong Kong picture which was also named as Asian best action movie at the same event. Koo said it was the first time he had won an acting prize in over 200 movie appearances.
Crime actioner, “The Trough” featuring Cheung as a cop who has gone undercover among the Triad gangs, and who accidentally kills another policeman. His dilemma is further increased when, having returned to the right side of the law, he discovers collusion between gangsters and government officials. The film, which also stars Chinese actress Yu Nan, is currently in post production.
Selected buyers are also getting a glimpse at “Storm Cloud,” another movie at development stage, and tagged to have a $32 million production cost.
One Cool Pictures was launched only a few years ago with a slate of smaller Hong Kong-centric titles. But times have changed. “Talent costs have risen. This is the cost of doing business in China these days,” says Christy Choi, distribution director at One Cool Pictures.
The move up in scale reflects the expansion of the mainland Chinese film market to unprecedented level. In the past six months three Chinese-made films have each achieved over $500 million at the mainland box office. That is encouraging Chinese producers and investors to believe that they should be working on budgets increasingly comparable to those of Hollywood’s mini-studios and studio-affiliated production houses.