Le Vision Pictures, the Los Angeles-based Chinese-owned film studio, has further boosted its presence in Hollywood.
The third-largest private film studio in China by total box office has bought the rights from Lionsgate’s epic fantasy feature Gods of Egypt for release in China and unveiled an inaugural 10-strong slate from Los Angeles-based offshoot Le Vision Pictures USA.
Zhang Zhao, vice-chairman of Letv and CEO of Le VP, said that by acquiring Gods of Egypt-directed by Alex Proyas and starring Gerard Butler－for distribution in China, it will take advantage of its online-to-offline marketing and distribution model that has proved successful with Hollywood franchises, such as The Expendables 2 and 3, which were cofinanced and distributed by Le VP.
The 10 films are mostly fantasy or sci-fi versions of classic stories, such as 8 Immortals-Portal to the Demon World, which follows a teen outcast and his friends after giant demons invade Beijing.
Others include King of Kings, an epic fantasy depicting the war between two Chinese Gods, Peony Pavilion, a fantasy romance adaptation of a Chinese romantic tragedy, and a reinterpretation of the iconic opera Turandot.
The only realist film is The Valley Life, adapted from a best-selling Chinese web novel portraying how Chinese programmers and engineers studying abroad come to realize their American dreams in Silicon Valley.
Except Zodiac: The Year of the Snake, which involved Jayson Rothwell as screenwriter and Bernie Goldmann as a producer, Le VP did not reveal its Hollywood partners for the other nine films or any time frame for production.
Le VP USA has also teamed up with Rob Minkoff, director of The Lion King and Mr. Peabody & Sherman, to codevelop and produce a live-action comedy, Silkworms, and an animated feature, Wolf Totem.
The company recently partnered with Dark Horse Comics, which Zhang said introduces a “next-generation Internet IP” model that “opens up more opportunities across platforms and devices to leverage intellectual properties with global franchise potential”.
Dark Horse Comics is expected to produce comics or animations of six popular Chinese online serial novels that Le VP USA has acquired.
The novels, which have garnered more than 400 million hits in China, including The Path to Immortality, The Descendants of Straw Mountain, Gods of China, The Naughty Queen, Magical Days, and Paranormal Activity Investigation Unit.
Zhang said the contents will be released on all Letv’s terminal platforms, including smartphones, iPads and television.
China has the largest market and is a rich source of film stories, while Hollywood has the largest film-production resources, he said.
Le VP has aimed to create a platform for both China and the US, the world’s two largest consumer markets, as the studio combines film-equity investments, Chinese distribution and global-production capabilities, said Zhang.
Le VP is currently in production of The Great Wall, the highest-budget US-China coproduction to date, directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Matt Damon, with Legendary East and Universal Pictures.