Salty Pictures, the production and finance company headed by Jonah Greenberg, CAA’s former head in China, has unveiled a five-picture production slate in tandem with Thailand’s The Studio Park Prods. (TSPP), including a Chinese-language film together with Johnny Depp and his Infinitum Nihil partner Sam Sarkar.
Studio Park is a leading facilities provider and property developer in Thailand, backed by the BBTV conglomerate. Its portfolio includes a recently built studio complex with five soundstages on the east side of Bangkok and equipment hire company Gearhead.
The group is now launching TSPP as a production services company that will assist inbound international productions. The agreement with Salty does not call for TSPP to invest, but sees the company provide services at preferential rates.
Since leaving CAA, Beijing-based Greenberg has begun development of 15 film projects. He is also an executive producer on Tom Waller’s “The Cave,” a Thai cave rescue film, which is now in post-production and being sold by Wild Bunch.
“As I put together my slate of projects, I found that several were connected to or could be filmed in Thailand. This agreement both provides me with a regular partner, and makes those projects more cost-effective,” Greenberg told Variety. He will produce using a combination of Hong Kong-registered Salty Pictures and a related mainland Chinese entity.
“Our objective with this agreement is to bring more movies to Thailand, to use our soundstages and properties,” said Kiki Narapimm Sundaravej, managing director of The Studio Park Thailand and TSP Production Services. “We will also be facilitating [Thailand’s] production rebate scheme for our clients.” Thailand provides a 15% to 20% production rebate scheme open to films that spend $1.5 million (THB50 million) in-country. Its maximum payout per film is $2.4 million.
The first film under the Salty-TSSP deal is expected to be “Omeebo,” a sci-fi comedy thriller that marks the feature directing debut of renowned Bangkok-based vfx supervisor Stephan Zlotescu, from a script by Philip Gelatt (“Love Death & Robots,” “Rise of the Tomb Raider”). Producers include Salty and Night Market Films, a company controlled by producer Desmond O’ Neill (“The Cave”). The budget is expected to be low enough to qualify for Thailand’s rebate.
On a significantly larger scale, Depp and Infinitum Nihil partner Sarkar are joining Salty to produce their first Chinese-language film, “Year of the Rat.” It is a sci-fi action film depicting a war in the future.
A third project is an English-Chinese adaptation of a story by Yan Geling. Yan is the acclaimed Chinese novelist who previously adapted “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and who wrote the novel behind Zhang Yimou’s “The Flowers of War” and the screenplay of Feng Xiaogang’s smash hit “Youth.”
“Taking Height 501” is an epic war film set in 1942 Burma (now Myanmar), and focusing on an incident when 800 Chinese troops rescued 7,000 British forces from Japanese control. While the film is still in development, Chinese actor Liao Fan, who appears in Cannes competition title “Wild Goose Lake,” is already attached to star.
A fifth project is “The Burma Road,” another war film. While no director is yet attached, the studio-level project is scripted by Bruce McKenna (“The Pacific,” “Band of Brothers”). Alan Greisman (“The Bucket List”) and Michael Shamberg (“Gattaca,” “Get Shorty,” “Erin Brockovich”) are producing, with Han Sanping, former head of China Film Group, set to executive produce.