Best known for directing Ray, director Taylor Hackford is set to take on another biopic with Merchant of Shanghai. According to Variety, this drama will be based on property magnate and opium dealer Silas Hardoon. The man is responsible for transforming the Shanghai opium trade industry of the 19th century.

The film will center on Hardoon, a Jew from Baghdad that migrated to Shanghai to become the kingpin of the opium trade. Actress-writer Luo Yan will collaborate with Hackford on the screenplay. The producers plan to include as much input from the government of China as possible. Hackford stated, "We will collaborate with a great amount of Chinese. It's a Chinese film out of Shanghai. This story is about a historic moment when Europe and China were dancing together, with Europe trying to impose its will. I thought it was a very interesting story on an epic scale."

The film will be shot in the fall of 2009 in and around Shanghai.