It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane … It’s the World’s First Chinese Superheroine – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Move over, Supergirl: A new superheroine is coming to town.

A Shanghai-based film studio is joining forces with Stan Lee, the former head of Marvel Comics, to create the world’s first English-language film starring a Chinese female superhero, amid a surge of cinematic girl power at home and abroad. Fundamental Films, a Chinese film production and distribution firm, recently announced that it will partner with Mr. Lee to co-produce “The Realm of the Tiger,” a superhero film featuring Chinese actress Li Bingbing as its yet-to-be-named main character.

Mr. Lee, who is 92 and chairman emeritus of Marvel, co-created a slate of the most well-known superheroes in the world, including Spider-Man, Iron Man and the X-Men. “We believe making female superhero films and other female-led action and sci-fi films will become a global trend in the future,” said Cheng Jiaqi, president of Fundamental Films. “A female superhero will help this Chinese story stand out.” More local studios are making female-friendly films in recent years in an effort to court China’s growing crowds of women moviegoers.

Fundamental Films said it would invest more than half of “Realm’s” total budget of “tens of millions of dollars” and will be involved in developing, producing and distributing the film, which is targeted at both Chinese and global audiences. The film’s plot and shooting timeline have yet to be finalized. The company is looking for a Western director to helm the project, which will be based on a script by Alex Litvak, one of the writers behind the 2010 action-adventure film “Predators.” The company said the story is based on an original idea from Mr. Lee.

The project is still pending the approval of China’s state film authority for official co-production status, which would help the film circumvent the import quota of films for release in China. Co-production is often deemed the “Holy Grail” for Western filmmakers seeking to tap China’s market—but often such projects don’t pan out as expected due to problems including mismatched expectations and gaps in communication.

Thanks to the booming Chinese film market, Hollywood studios have started to include Chinese elements to lure local audiences and win over the censors’ hearts. An increasing number of Western films have featured Chinese actresses, including Ms. Li, who appeared in the latest installment of Paramount’s “Transformers” last year. But often, their only token involvement draws online mockery at home.

Superhero films – both foreign and domestic – are generally well received in China. “Pancake Man,” a modest-budget domestic comedy about an actor making a film about a superhero, grossed nearly 1.2 billion yuan ($190 million) this summer. A string of movies based on the Monkey King, a character from the classic Chinese novel “Journey To The West,” has also grossed high at local theaters.

More Chinese filmmakers are also seeking power from the West. Huace Group, a leading local studio, in September signed a four-film development deal with Hollywood producer Michael Uslan, producer of the “Batman” movies. Zhao Yifang, president of Huace, told China Real Time that the company plans to build China’s superhero franchise by working with Mr. Uslan in the future.

Source: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane … It’s the World’s First Chinese Superheroine – China Real Time Report – WSJ


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