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Huayi Bros.’ Big-Budget War Drama ‘The Eight Hundred’ Sells to North America

China’s Huayi Bros. has locked in multiple overseas rights sales for its upcoming big-budget war film “The Eight Hundred” on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival and market.

The film is set for a release in North America, Australia and New Zealand through CMC Pictures. Distributors in these territories typically coordinate their release dates closely with the film’s outing in mainland China, which is scheduled for July 5.

The film was also sold to First Run for South Korea; Koch for Germany; Trinity for the U.K.; Shaw for Singapore and Brunei; GSC for Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos; and to Emphasis for worldwide airline distribution.

Guan Hu, the Chinese director who broke through to international and commercial success with 2015 gangster drama “Mr. Six,” directed “The Eight Hundred” on a budget of $80 million. Filmed over a period of eight months, it is the first Chinese feature to be shot with Imax digital cameras.

The central narrative focuses on a group of Chinese soldiers and draft dodgers in 1937 who put up a four-day defense of a warehouse complex in Shanghai just as Japanese forces are overwhelming China. The decision to hold out at that location was intended both to stall the Japanese and to attract the attention of the foreign legations just across the river.

Huayi reports that Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is providing the theme song. He joins a mixed Chinese and international crew including Cao Yu (“Kekexili,” “Legend of the Demon Cat”), American action director Glenn Boswell (“The Matrix,” “I, Robot”), music by Andrew Kawczynski, and the U.K.’s Rupert Gregson-Williams (“The Crown,” “Aquaman,” “Wonder Woman”), who will supply theme music, and Australia’s Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Crosbie (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”).

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