Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures has picked up international sales rights to “Only Cloud Knows,” the new romantic film by Feng Xiaogang.
Now in post-production, the film is a New Zealand- and China-set romance starring Huang Xuan (“Legend of the Demon Cat”) and Yang Caiyu (from Feng’s hit “Youth”). Production is handled by Feng’s Dongyang Mayla company. A release date has not yet been settled.
“Cloud” is a trip down memory lane for a middle-aged Chinese man who returns to New Zealand after the death of his wife. There he retraces the footsteps of their courtship and meets old friends, before a trip to Beijing uncovers another side of his wife’s past.
Feng is arguably China’s most commercially successful and consistent director, with more than 15 years of hits including “Youth,” “I Am Not Madame Bovary,” “Assembly” and “Cell Phone.” He is also an in-demand actor. He had a starring role in “Mr Six” and this year voiced the Rooster character in the Chinese version of “The Secret Life of Pets.”
Feng was close to the center of an industry-disrupting storm that broke out around superstar actress Fan Bingbing in June 2018. Fan, who was due to appear in a key supporting role in Feng’s Huayi Bros.-backed “Cell Phone 2,” was alleged to have used dual contracts to hide a significant portion of her income. She was taken into custody for several months and released after making confessions and promises to pay over $70 million of back taxes, fines and interest.
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The incident, which came to light as part of a feud between Feng and a TV host, was a catalyst for the government to ramp up long-awaited reform of taxation in the film industry. Film and TV production in China slowed to a crawl in late 2018 and early 2019 as the tax system was overhauled, and companies scrambled to sort out their tax affairs.
While Feng has denied any wrong-doing – at one point it was alleged that he would be fined RMB2 billion ($280 million) — his industry position has been strained ever since. His acting role in Jia Zhangke’s “Ash is Purest White” was edited out between the film’s Cannes debut in May and its Sept. 2018 commercial release in China. Similarly, it is not clear that “Cell Phone 2” will ever be completed and released. And, Mayla had to compensate Huayi some RMB67 million ($9.5 million) for lost profits last year.
In November last year Feng announced that he was shooting a patriotic movie about the 70th anniversary of the founding Of the People’s Republic of China. In a social media message he posted images of sets under construction in Movie Town Haikou, a production site and tourist theme park on the tropical island of Hainan, jointly owned by Feng and Huayi. The status of that movie is currently unclear.