Pinewood Studios is today confirming its ambitious offshore strategy with the official launch of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. Already open for a handful of months, the studio is currently hosting The Weinstein Co. and Netflix series Marco Polo. Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy tells me, “You have a UK studio in Malaysia with Weinstein the production company and Netflix the distribution platform – I think that says it all about the new world.”
Along with Malaysia, the Pinewood family now includes the flagship South Buckinghamshire location, nearby Shepperton Studios, and outlets in the Dominican Republic, Toronto, Berlin and Atlanta — where Marvel’s Ant Man is colonizing. The group is also advising Wanda Dalian on a new film and TV studio complex, Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, which is expected to open in 2016. Read More »
Paramount and China Film Co said today that Rob Cohen will helm the 3D fantasy/action film Marco Polo. with shooting to begin in China later this year. The announcement was made at a press conference in Beijing by Paramount Pictures Vice Chairman Rob Moore, China Film Co Chairman La Peikang and Cohen. Moore said the story of Marco Polo is the perfect choice for this international collaboration, as it is well-known not only in China but also in the West. He also added that there has been great interest in Hollywood and China to participate.
Related: Paramount & China Film Co To Produce 3D ‘Marco Polo’
La said that with the rapid economic development in China, Chinese movies have entered a “great creative and great industrial” era and that Marco Polo breaks the traditional method of a China-U.S. co-production. He added that China no longer is only providing the money, talent and market but also being part of script development, technology complementation and film technician exchange and that this will be a co-production that has never been seen before with a major Hollywood studio.
Paramount Pictures and China Film Co Ltd have inked a deal to produce the 3D fastasy/action feature film Marco Polo. It was announced today by China Film Co’s Zhang Qiang and Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore at the signing during the Beijing International Film Festival. This is a first-time venture between between CFC and Paramount but the second deal in days for China Film Co and a U.S. studio. On Monday, the Chinese group announced it had made an eight-figure equity investment in two Legendary Entertainment pics: the Jeff Bridges starrer Seventh Son and Warcraft, the pic based on the Blizzard online game that Duncan Jones is writing and directing.
Paramount and China Film Co said they felt Marco Polo was something that would appeal to both the Chinese and overseas markets. The adaptation will be based on historical context of the famed 13th century explorer but will go beyond the traditional “biographic” type story by positioning it as a fantasy action movie. Shooting is planned to begin in October in conjunction with Yuehua Entertainment, Phoenix Entertainment, and Huahua Film & Media Culture.
Few other details were revealed, but Moore and Zhang said the movie will be directed by an experienced action adventure director from the U.S. and feature a top-tier cast from the U.S. and China. Zhang emphasized the significance of this first-time cooperation between the two companies and hopefully the beginning of a series of future co-production films between China and Hollywood.
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EXCLUSIVE: If you are a major agency and you wait for an actor to be discovered before signing him, it’s too late. UTA emerged from a competitive situation to sign Lorenzo Richelmy, who is playing the title character in the massive Netflix/Weinstein Company TV limited-run series Marco Polo. Richelmy is a 23-year-old Italian actor who’ll play the 13th century merchant traveler who was among the first to establish ties with Asia. The first two episodes, which I am told are among the priciest ever, will be helmed by Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, who take this on before doing the next Pirates Of The Caribbean. The 10-hour series is executive produced by creator-writer John Fusco and showrunner Daniel Minahan. It’s Netflix’s attempt to build on original programming successes House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Richelmy, who is bilingual, starred in the Italian-produced drama Il Terzo Tempo (The Third Half), which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, and the comedy La Terra e Il Vento (The Earth And The Wind). UTA becomes the actor’s first American agency. Richelmy continues to be represented in Rome by Daniele Orazi at Consorzio Officine Artistiche.
Related: Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’ Taps Lorenzo Richelmy As Lead
The streaming service has put together a decidedly international cast for its upcoming drama about the legendary 13th century traveler. Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy stars as the title character in Marco Polo, which has begun filming in Venice before moving on to Kazakhstan and the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Richelmy starred in the Italian dramedy Terra e vento and has appeared in other films including Fat Cat and Terzo tempo. The cast also includes England’s Benedict Wong (Prometheus), China’s Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas), Hong Kong-born and London-raised Tom Wu (Skyfall), Aussie Remy Hii (Treading Water) and Washington, D.C. native Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen). Creator John Fusco and Harvey Weinstein are executive producing the Weinstein Co. drama, which received a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January. Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg are directing the first two episodes. Dan Minahan is exec producing and also directing two episodes. The series is set in China during the 1200s — a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles. Netflix plans to debut Marco Polo late this year.
Related: ‘Marco Polo’ Crew Mourns Ju Kun; Asst Martial Arts Choreographer Is Among Missing On Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
UPDATE: Netflix and The Weinstein Company have just sent a statement regarding Ju Kun: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” they said in a joint statement. “Ju Kun, who was on board, was an integral part of our production team and a tremendous talent. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
EARLIER: Among the passengers missing and believed to have perished on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is Ju Kun, the veteran martial arts expert and assistant martial arts choreographer on Marco Polo, the Netflix/The Weinstein Company series pilot that is scheduled to begin production in three weeks. The 35-year old stuntman had completed a day of training and choreography and made a quick trip from Pinewood Studios in Malaysia to his home in Beijing, which was why he boarded the flight that disappeared 35,000 feet over Vietnam. Read More »
After months of negotiations, Netflix has closed a deal for its newest original series Marco Polo, a nine-episode drama of politics, manipulation and deadly warfare among clashing empires. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki) are directing the first episode before they go off to helm Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. The project, originally set up at Starz, will premiere on Netflix in late 2014. It will be produced by The Weinstein Co. at the new Pinewood Studios, Malaysia. Originally developed by the Weinstein Co. and Electus, the project received a 10-episode straight-to-series order by Starz in January 2012. Seven scripts were written for the series, which was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. A year and a half later, last August Starz released the project, and it was taken to Netflix, which made an offer for nine episodes to be filmed in Malaysia. Electus remains involved, serving as executive producer and distributing in all non-Netflix international territories. Ronning and Sandberg will also executive produce with Dan Minahan (Game Of Thrones). The series, created and executive produced … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: For a guy who lived in the 13th Century, Marco Polo has suddenly caught Hollywood’s fancy. Warner Bros has set Stephanie Koff to write Marco Polo, a film Erwin Stoff is producing. Koff, who most recently adapted Wither, based on the bestselling young adult novel series The Chemical Garden Trilogy. She’s a writer of science fiction action and fantasy and will take Marco Polo in a new direction. This comes as Netflix has emerged as frontrunner on a nine episode order on a series created by John Fusco backed by The Weinstein Company and Electus. Polo was the Venice merchant traveler and storyteller who ventured to China and opened up Asia for trade. Koff is repped by Gersh and New Wave Entertainment.
UPDATED: The Weinstein Co. and Electus‘ Marco Polo series is on the move. I’ve learned that Netflix has made an offer for a 9-episode order to the original drama about the 13th century explorer. According to sources close to the negotiations, there is no deal in place yet because Harvey Weinstein also is considering a feature version of the project, which is fully financed, and is deciding between the two options. Marco Polo originally was set up at Starz, which gave it a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January 2012. The series was supposed to film in China, something no other U.S. show has done, which proved a complex and difficult proposition. I hear the potential series will film in Malaysia. Seven scripts already have been written, with casting on track to begin right away for a production start in the first quarter. The Weinstein Co. and Electus took out the project after it was released to them by Starz, the pay cable network confirmed.With the delays caused by the efforts to film in China, Starz has built a full slate for 2014 with 50 hours of original programming, making it difficult to find space for another series. Read More »
Harvey Weinstein sat down for a Q&A at MIPCOM today, making his first official appearance at the TV market. The Weinstein Company co-chairman outlined plans for new annual live TV event show Michael Flatley’s World Dance Awards. As I reported earlier today, Flatley was indeed the surprise guest during Weinstein’s session, but he didn’t do any tap steps.
Related: Weinstein Co. To Produce Michael Flatley Dance Awards Show
Weinstein said the show would be performance-oriented and that he’d call on his stable of celebrity pals from around the world to line the red carpet. “If this show has a cousin, it’s the Grammys,” he said. Making his pitch to buyers, Weinstein added, “We want to make it an event so it’s a game-changer for all the networks that buy the show and a ratings blockbuster that the people who get in early will have year after year.” The show does not yet have a network, but Weinstein is looking to find a hole in the awards calendar where it can stand on its own. “Maybe in April or May before Cannes,” he said. Flatley called the show a “dream come true” and commented, “We owe this to the millions and millions of kids around the world that dance… They give their everything and I can’t understand why there’s no awards.” About 8-10 prizes will be handed out including for best dance in a film, on TV and in video, as well as a best dancer in the world prize. Flatley said he would choreograph the opening ceremony.
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Canterbury’s Law creator Dave Erickson has joined Starz’s upcoming drama series Marco Polo as executive producer. He will co-showrun the series with creator/executive producer John Fusco, who comes from a feature background. Marco Polo, described as a fantastical martial arts epic about the thirteenth century explorer, chronicling the famous adventurer’s early years in the court of Kublai Khan, hails from Ben Silverman’s IAC-owned Electus and The Weinstein Co. Erickson most recently served as co-executive producer on FX’s Sons Of Anarchy.
Starz has greenlighted Marco Polo, a new 10-episode original scripted series about the 13th century explorer from the Weinstein Co. and Electus. Created by John Fusco (Hidalgo), Marco Polo is described as a fantastical martial arts epic chronicling the famous adventurer’s early years in the court of Kublai Khan. Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East and returns with tales of his journeys. In a court filled with political betrayal and forbidden relationships, Marco must use his martial arts training to survive, but it is his ability to enchant Khan with imaginative tales of his kingdom that is often his best tool to stay alive. Fusco wrote the project and is executive producing with Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Ben Silverman. “Marco Polo has captivated imaginations for centuries, and John’s script brings this fantastical story to life,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. Read More »