HONG KONG - Two months after unveiling the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Harvey Weinstein has entered into martial arts film territory again by announcing plans to remake two legendary Shaw Brothers Studio classics from the 1970s.
In a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, Hong Kong's Celestial Pictures - which owns the Shaw Brothers' library - announced a collaboration with The Weinstein Co. to produce English-language versions of King Hu's 1966 film Come Drink With Me and Sun Chung's The Avenging Eagle from 1978. The companies aim to produce the two films back to back and are targeting to principle photography in 2014, said Kristen Tong. Celestial's head of business and legal affairs. She said the "preliminary thought is to have international casts for both pictures," and that it's too early to confirm when the new films will be set and shot.
"We are unable to disclose that now as it depends very much on [screenwriter] John Fusco's vision. But we feel that the subject matter of the projects would fit with more exotic locations," she said.
Weinstein and David Thwaites will be producing the two projects, according to the statement. Fusco has already signed up to pen the script of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny, another TWC project.
Weinstein previously spoke about remaking Come Drink With Me in 2007, with plans of having Quentin Tarantino direct.
"Shaw Brothers and [the studio's co-founder] Sir Run Run Shaw were responsible for ushering some of the first great, legendary Asian filmmakers and acting talent onto the world stage," said Weinstein in the statement, in which he described the plans as an "exciting opportunity to be bringing new life to these two classic films."
These two new projects will make 2014 a martial-arts-fueled year for TWC, with the Crouching Tiger sequel - starring Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh - expected to being production next March. Before that, TWC will also be releasing Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster on Aug. 23.
Celestial Pictures director Ralph Marshall said there are "further productions in development," an this new deal goes alongside the company's "imminent" global release of its Shaw Brothers titles on digital platforms to showcase the studio's back catalogue in "new and innovative ways."
Tong, who negotiated the deal with TWC's David Glasser, told THR that other production partners might come on board if appropriate, depending on the final budget of the two projects. She said the thought of shaping the two films as U.S.-China co-productions "has never been off the table, but it’s too preliminary at this stage to make a decision."
"Again, it all depends on the development process," she said. "We will do what makes most sense to bring the projects to life for a global audience."
Come Drink With Me was Hu's first directorial breakthrough in the martial-arts film genre after cutting his teeth at the Hong Kong studio with films such as The Love Eterne and Sons of the Good Earth. The film also marked a breakthrough role for actress Cheng Pei-Pei, starring as a general’s dexterous daughter trying to fight off bandits in order to free her brother. The original Avenging Eagle starred Ti Lung (later becoming more well-known internationally in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow) as an orphaned outlaw who rebels against his own clan, led by a brutal chieftain called King Eagle.
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