Lionsgate, the leading independent filmed entertainment studio,Relativity Media and J&J Productions Limited announced that principal photography for the international production of kungfu action-adventure epic Forbidden Kingdom has just wrapped, with the last few scenes completed at the massive Hengdian World Studios in Zhejiang Province, China.
Filming started on May 2, 2007. The 17-week production took place at various locations in China, including Anji, Dunhuang, Fangyan, Xianju, Wuyi Mountain and Hengdian.
Lionsgate plans to release Forbidden Kingdom in the United States in Spring 2008 and will co-release the film with The Weinstein Company. Lionsgate UK will self-distribute the film in the United Kingdom. The Weinstein Company will handle distribution in Spain, France and Latin America. Relativity Media is handling foreign sales on the picture. Forbidden Kingdom marks the second project that Relativity has produced and financed and that Lionsgate has marketed and distributed as a joint effort.
"The combination of a formidable crew, together with the spectacular locations and studio sets has made this an incredible journey for all of us. We have accomplished so much more than I would have ever imagined possible. I cannot wait to show what we have achieved to the world," commented producer Casey Silver (Ladder 49, Hidalgo, the upcoming Leatherheads). The film is produced by Casey Silver Productions in association with Relativity Media and in co-production with Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media Group (Kung Fu Hustle, The Banquet).
Directed by Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), Forbidden Kingdom brings together the two top international martial arts superstars, Jackie Chan (Shanghai Knights, The Legend of Drunken Master, the Rush Hour trilogy) and Jet Li (The One, Hero, Jet Li's Fearless) for the first time in movie-making history.
Also starring in the film are Michael Angarano (Almost Famous, Lords of Dogtown), Collin Chou (The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions) and renowned Chinese actresses Crystal Liu Yi Fei (Love of May, Return of the Condor Heroes) and Li Bing Bing (The Knot, Love For All Seasons).
"Working in China with some of its biggest stars, both in front of and behind the camera, has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience," declared Minkoff.
Bringing his extraordinary eye to the film's visual scheme is Academy Award-winning director of photography Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Bride With White Hair, The Promise); while famed action choreographer Woo-Ping Yuen (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Matrix, Hero, Jet Li's Fearless) has created a host of ingenious fight sequences, including a few that take place between the characters played by Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
In developing the film's original screenplay, screenwriter John Fusco (Hidalgo, the Academy Award-nominated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron) wove in characters from the famous Chinese legends "Journey To The West" and "The Eight Immortals," as well as the martial arts novel "The Bride With White Hair." These classic elements are joined with the modern-day story of a kungfu-obsessed teenager to create a film that delivers non-stop martial arts action while also exploring the deeper meaning of kungfu.
Executive producers on the project include Ryan Kavanaugh of Relativity Media (3:10 To Yuma, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) and Raffaella De Laurentiis (The Last Legion, Backdraft). The production marked a happy return to the region for De Laurentiis, who was in China and Hong Kong to produce 1986's Taipan and 1993's Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. "The dynamics of filmmaking in Asia have changed tremendously since I was last here," De Laurentiis remarked. "The industry has made enormous strides and our collaboration with Huayi Brothers Media Group has been very fruitful."
The focus is now shifting to South Korea, where the visual effects will be created by a consortium of the top visual effects houses, assembled specifically for the movie: Macrograph, Inc., Digital Tetra Inc. (DTI) and Footage. It will be the first time that a non-Korean film with a complex and ambitious special effects profile will undergo post-production work in South Korea, a market that in the last decade has seen a rapid expansion of its filmmaking capabilities.
Said Silver, "For a film that has crossed so many boundaries and set numerous precedents, it was only fitting to have a top-notch Korean visual effects team come on board. We've been fortunate to assemble the best and brightest from Macrograph, DTI and Footage, and I believe they will bring the film to another level."
Added Minkoff, "Korea is on the cutting edge of media in Asia, so I am excited to see this team work their magic."
"DTI Pictures has always dreamt of working on such a major project," said Yoon Suk Lee, the CEO of DTI.
Forbidden Kingdom may represent a watershed moment for the South Korean film industry, which is poised to take on more Hollywood-based projects. "Being a part of an international production of this scale will help to further develop the company," commented Tae Jung Han, the President of Footage. "Macrograph's goal has always been to become a global CGI house," added Dr. Inho Lee, the CEO of Macrograph.
In Forbidden Kingdom, American teenager Jason (Michael Angarano), who is obsessed with Hong Kong cinema and kungfu classics, finds an antique Chinese staff in a pawn shop: the legendary stick weapon of the Chinese sage and warrior, the Monkey King (Jet Li). With the lost relic in hand, Jason unexpectedly finds himself transported back to ancient China.
There, he meets the drunken kungfu master, Lu Yan (Jackie Chan); an enigmatic and skillful Silent Monk (Jet Li); and a vengeance-bent kungfu beauty, Golden Sparrow (Crystal Liu Yi Fei), who lead him on his quest to return the staff to its rightful owner, the Monkey King - imprisoned in stone by the evil Jade Warlord (Collin Chou) for five hundred years. Along the way, while attempting to outmaneuver scores of Jade Warriors, Cult Killers and the deadly White Hair Demoness, Ni Chang (Li Bing Bing), Jason learns about honor, loyalty and friendship, and the true meaning of kungfu, and thus frees himself.
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