New York-based distributor Cheng Cheng Films has bought the North American rights to “My Prince Edward,” the first feature written and directed by Hong Kong screenwriter Norris Wong Yee-Lam, from Hong Kong sales agent Golden Scene.
The news come as Wong announced Monday that filmmaking duo Mabel Cheung and Alex Law, the husband and wife behind films such as “An Autumn’s Tale,” will executive produce her second feature. Wong will make that film with assistance from a new $12.9 million local government fund intended to boost Hong Kong’s film industry.
Wong said on Facebook that she took Cheung’s class during her sophomore year at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2010, and was “so happy” the director still remembered her early work. Cheung said that Wong “has been looking to work with me throughout the years, but our availabilities never matched.” She praised Wong’s “potential,” saying, “I remember among many students submitting assignments only she delivered a musical and I was deeply impressed.”
“My Prince Edward” tells the story of a newly engaged Hong Kong woman trying to rid herself of a secret sham marriage to a mainlander.
Shot on a shoestring budget of around $400,000 in 18 days, the film won the NETPAC Award for its “poignant portrayal of ways the institution of marriage affect the lives of modern women” at last year’s Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan, as well as best new director and original film score at last year’s Hong Kong Film Awards. Frequent Wong Kar-Wai collaborator William Chang Suk Ping (“In the Mood for Love,” “The Grandmaster”) stepped in as editing director.
Hitting cinemas in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic on June 11, it has grossed just $576,000 in Hong Kong so far. The city announced Monday that it will be shutting cinemas again for a week as part of a broader shutdown to prevent further surges in coronavirus cases, which doesn’t bode well for the film’s continuing box office prospects on home turf.
“If ‘My Prince Edward’ came out during the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, it might have made no waves at all. I’m fully aware that it looks like a student project,” said Wong. “The recognition it has received reflects the tough situation faced by Hong Kong films.”
Cheng Cheng Films hopes to give “My Prince Edward” a theatrical run in North America in September and release it on VOD and DVD in December. The firm called the movie a “notable cinematic contribution from a Hong Kong homegrown woman to the city’s global discourse.”
Founded in 2015, the New York-based distributor focuses on Chinese language films, with past releases including female helmer Teng Congcong’s first feature “Send Me to the Clouds,” starring Yao Chen, and Yang Chao’s Silver Bear-winning 2016 title “Crosscurrent.”