About six weeks ago, Variety reported that the Weinsteins planned to make three English-language Hong Kong action films in collaboration with producer/director Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) and TV producer Tony Krantz (24). Now we're learning that their Asian ambitions are much more expansive: they're launching a $285 million fund to "fully finance the development, production, acquisition, marketing and distribution of a large slate of Asian themed films over the next six years," according to a press release.

The Weinstein Co. will control worldwide distribution of a slate including "a diverse mix of theatrical and direct-to-video titles, which will mostly be filmed in Asia." The company "anticipates producing or acquiring a total of 21 theatrical titles and 10 direct-to-video titles during the term for the fund." The basic idea is that production costs are lower in Asia than in the US or Europe, allowing the films to "offer significant production value with a Western sensibility ... aimed both at performing well in the Asian territories of their origin and appealing to Western audiences." David Lee has been named to oversee the creative aspects of the fund.

Titles covered by the fund include the three pictures in the Lau/Krantz deal mentioned above, previously-announced films such as a live action version of Mulan, a "contemporary" remake (sigh) of The Seven Samurai, Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, plus Shanghai, an action epic set during World War II, and an untitled project starring Tony Jaa (Ong Bak). Divide $285 million by 31 titles, and that's not very much money for each film, which would indicate they will be making full use of less-expensive Asian talent both behind and in front of the camera. The Weinsteins are infamous for meddling with Asian films, so we'll have to wait to see how independent -- and how "Asian themed" -- these films really are.

[ Via indieWIRE ]
categories Movies, Cinematical