Sony Pictures Classics has acquired North America and Latin America rights to Zhang Yimou's period epic Curse of the Golden Flower currently shooting in China. Starring Chow Yun Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Replacement Killers) and Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern, Memoirs of a Geisha, Miami Vice).

Curse of the Golden Flower reunites Zhang Yimou and Gong Li whose previous collaborations changed the face of Asian cinema (Raise the Red Lantern, Judup, Shanghai Triad) in the 1990's. The film also marks the ninth collaboration for director Zhang Yimou with the team at Sony Pictures Classics (most recently House of Flying Daggers in 2004). The picture also reunites Sony Pictures Classics with producer Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers) and Beijing New Pictures (Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, House of Flying Daggers, Hero).

In the spirit of such landmark Asian films as Akira Kurosawa's Ran from Japan and Zhang Yimou's own Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower promises to be Zhang Yimou's most colorful and biggest production to date, fusing high drama and romantic intrigue with the best of contemporary martial arts. The plot concerns the volatile balance of power between the King (Chow Yun Fat) and the Queen (Gong Li) and his three sons, which entails betrayal, deceit and passion, pitting King against Queen and father against sons. The glorious canvas includes many of the creative team behind Hero and House of Flying Daggers: cinematographer Zhao Xiading (Oscar nominated for House of Flying Daggers), production designer Huo Tingxiao, action director Tony Ching Siu-Tung, sound designer Tao Jing, and producers Bill Kong and Zhang Wei Ping. The music is composed by Shigeru Umebayashi (Hero, 2046, In the Mood for Love) and the costume designer is Yee Chung Man (So Close).

Sony Pictures Classics Co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard say in a joint statement, "We feel Curse of the Golden Flower will be a culmination of Zhang Yimou's great career. From Gong Li's stunning performance to Chow Yun Fat's commanding presence to opulence one has rarely ever seen on screen, this movie will have it all: brilliantly executed action set pieces as well as compelling intimate drama against the most colorful historical canvas imaginable. The level of excitement surrounding this film is unbelievable. Needless to say, it is great to be together once again with Zhang Yimou, his tremendous crew, Gong Li, Chow Yun Fat, and, of course, Bill Kong. One could not have a more formidable creative team than this group. Curse of the Golden Flower looks to be a very commercial film of the very highest quality. "

Director Zhang Yimou said, "Michael and Tom have done fantastic work with my films in the past, I really look forward to working closely with them again." While producer Bill Kong added, "I am so happy the film rests in the hands of Tom and Michael. They are truly experts of distribution of Asian films in the western world."

Brian B.