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Frederic Ambroisine
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Masters of Universe: Benny Chan's new project + Pang brothers' INFERNO 3D & more (FILMART 2012)

During the 16th Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART) (March 19-22, 2012), the Hong Kong production and distribution company Universe announced the big new projects of Benny Chan, who has come back to the explosive modern action genre two years after CITY UNDER SIEGE, and also the Pang brothers ( Oxyde and Danny), who signed a 10-year deal with Universe in 2009, and who since have been regularly delivering mostly genre movies like the action fantasy THE STORM WARRIORS and the horror film CHILD'S EYE. Mia Sin, distribution executive for Universe Films, tells us more about these directors' upcoming projects.

MS: Yes. Their collaboration will be beneficial to each other. Under Universe they have the freedom to do the projects they want to try to do, like I NFERNO 3Da disaster film. They have never made that kind of film before. It is one of the two big projects that we announced this year at FILMART. It is an $18 million US budget film, the hightest budget movie ever made by Universe, even more expensive than THE STORM WARRIORS. INFERNO is still in pre-production but we have already confirmed that the cast includes Lau Ching-wan and Louis Koo. It is the second movie made by the Pang brothers in 3D; the first one was CHILD'S EYE, a horror film.

MS: No. It's a temporary key-art that we prepared before FILMART. We used some of his old movie images but that's just a way to remind people what Lau Ching-wan did before. Because that film is one of his classics, right? I think that it will be an interesting partnership between him and Louis Koo who is, like him, a major Hong Kong actor now.  

MS: Yes, we have some investors from China which is a very important market, of course. We also have some stars from Mainland China like Wang Xue-Qi from BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS and Wang Bao Qiang who recently acted in Dante Lam's FIRE OF CONSCIENCE. They are both very popular now in Mainland China.  

MS: Definitely. Everybody who comes to our booth asks us about INFERNO and the new Benny Chan project, the untitled one, which is about drug trafficking. It's a modern cop action movie, and people have been looking forward to this movie. Those are basically the two movies that people are showing a big interest in.

MS: That's true but in Mainland China there's still a high demand for 3D movies, especially the high budget, big scale 3D films. And as we remember, they have done martial arts films in 3D but not disaster films. So I think that the combination of fire and 3D will be very interesting. And that's why it will take a year to do the post-production.

MS: It's a solo project from Danny Pang; a suspense thriller which will be released this May in Hong Kong. It stars Lau Ching-wan and Wang Bao Qiang again. And also our own actress Elanne Kwong, who is one of the female leads in CHILD'S EYE. This one is quite interesting for the overseas distributors as well because the storyline is very clear. It's about a detective, played by Lau Ching-wan, who has to investigate serial killings done in a fairytale way, but also a bloody way, a brutal way. Lau Ching-wan knows who is the murderer is from the beginning. It's like a cat and mouse game where good and evil fight against each other. This one has a $3.5 million US budget. They shot it in Thailand.

MS: Yes, Danny and Oxyde Pang worked with a Thailand crew for many years, so they feel comfortable there. The production and the post-production from Thailand are high quality.

MS: Do you remember THE DETECTIVEand THE DETECTIVE 2 by Oxyde Pang? This is like the finale of the whole "Detective" film series. We changed the name to CONSPIRATORSbecause the producer wants to differentiate this movie from the previous two, even if they were well acclaimed. But for this one, the final one, the production budget is higher. It is $5 million US and we have another major actor in this film: Nick Cheung, who is such an awesome actor. The chemistry between Aaron Kwok and Nick Cheung, who are both award-winning actors, should be something that the audience can look forward to. We are still shooting the movie in Malaysia, Thailand and Mainland China. We just got a rough promo ready right before FILMART.

MS: Yes, in the Asian territories mostly. We sold THE DETECTIVEto Japan, which for example is a very tough market. Part 2 was released last year in Hong Kong, so we are still working on the Part 2 sales this year at FILMART.

MS: The main cast is not yet confirmed, and we don't want to confuse the buyers with a title that maybe misleads them.

MS: As always.

MS: Yes.  We'll have to announce it a little bit later because the Pang brothers are focusing on INFERNOnow. THE EXORCISTwill be a more traditional horror film like THE EYE. For this one, they don't want to play with 3D; they'll try to go back to the basics. We'll have Charlene Choi in it as the leading actress.

MS: To us, FILMART is always a good market.  As long as the buyers come to Hong Kong, they definitely have to meet with all the Hong Kong companies. That why we set up such a big booth and launched many new titles at FILMART: in order to pitch the pre-sales in Southeast Asian territories. The result is quite good. I think we can already do some pre-sales for the new projects here in Hong Kong.

Interview conducted by Frédéric Ambroisineat FILMART on March 20th, 2012. Edited by Sylvia Rorem. Cross-published on Twitch.

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