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Cannes: China’s Times Vision Bets on Sci-Fi ‘Shanghai Fortress’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Chinese sales and distribution company Times Vision has brought two new titles to Cannes this year, including “Shanghai Fortress,” a big-budget summer sci-fi blockbuster that producers hope will replicate the success of “The Wandering Earth.” Its other film at the Marche is family drama “Looking Up.”

“Shanghai Fortress” stars Taiwanese actress Shu Qi and Chinese idol Lu Han, one of the country’s highest-paid celebrities, who rose to fame as a member of the South Korean boy band Exo. It is expected to debut in early August, with China Film Group as the primary distributor. 

Adapted from a popular sci-fi novel by writer Jiang Nan, the futuristic romance was produced by HS Entertainment Group Inc. The firm was behind the 2013 romantic comedy “So Young,” the directorial debut of actress Vicky Zhao Wei and the 2017 TV series “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” a palace drama.

“Looking Up” is a family drama starring Deng Chao (Zhang Yimou’s “Shadow,” 2016’s “The Mermaid”) that centers on the changing relationship between a father and his young son. Deng directed the feature jointly with writer-director Yu Baimei (“Devil and Angel,” “The Break-Up Guru”). It is set to hit Chinese theaters July 26, with Maoyan as the China distributor.

Times Vision recently sold the rights to action thriller “Savage,” the debut feature from Chinese screenwriter Cui Siwei, to numerous territories worldwide. Rights were purchased by Well Go for North America, Wild Bunch for France, Koch Films for Germany, Cai Chang for Taiwan, At Entertainment for Japan, NK Contents for Korea, and Encore for in-flight.

The film debuted April 30 in China but, overshadowed by “Avengers: Endgame” and “Capernaum,” has not performed very well, making just $3.92 million (RMB27 million). 

But Times Vision CEO Nathan Hao told Variety he was optimistic for the prospects of his new slate, particularly “Shanghai Fortress.” “We think the film will have a good chance because there’s been such great achievements in the world box office and streaming for ‘The Wandering Earth,'” he said. That film debuted in February and has gone on to become the second-highest grossing film of all time in the country, with earnings of $677 million (RMB4.66 billion), paving the way for the genre in the Middle Kingdom. 

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