Alot more details have emerged since we last heard from Empires of the Deep
(人鱼帝国), the tent pole underwater fantasy US/China co-production previously entitled Mermaid Island. In a press conference held last Tuesday, the Chinese media were introduced to the cast & crew and they discussed on what is instored for the $130 million budgeted film.
- The film is the brainchild of Real estate mogul Jon Jiang, one of the richest men in China and CEO of Fontelysee Pictures who co-wrote the script, self-financed part of the funds himself and served as the producer since the very beginning of development in 2006. He seeks to fulfilled his dream of wowing an international audience with the first ever major English language Hollywood-style production made in China.
- Canadian director Michael French (Heart of a Dragon
) will helm the project and he has already been shooting around China for six months with seven months to go before the final stages of filming, followed by a year of post-production. Originally, French F/X wizard Pitof (Catwoman
) was attached to direct before getting replaced by Jonathan Lawrence (Dream Parlor
) who also got replaced by French.
- Despite earlier reports
, Monica Bellucci is not among the cast
line-up as the Mermaid queen. Instead, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko has taken over her role. The male lead of Atlas is played by
Steve Polites while the supporting role of Aka, a mermaid and love
interest, is played by Liang Yanfei. Set in ancient Greece, the plot is about a young man's adventure in the undersea mystical kingdom to save his father while encountering the mermaid and getting involved in large-scale battles against sea monsters and demons.
- The Empire Strikes Back
director Irvin Kershner, aged 87, was onboard as the producer but dropped out. Its co-produce by Harrison Liang and Kevin Jiang (no relation) of E-magine Studio, the in-house CGI company responsible for conceptualizing the many fantastical sea creatures and spectacular underwater set pieces.
- Taking a cue from the 3D craze spurred on from the record-breaking success of James Cameron's Avatar
, the producer invited stereography consultant Anthony Arendt as part of the team to learn how to take full advantage of this technology.
- The film is planned as the first of a trilogy. Jiang said the second installment has been scripted while the third is in treatment. Also part of the plans is to franchise tie-in products and merchandise including comic books, an
animated series, online and mobile phone games, gifts, toys etc.
- No global distribution deal with any major Hollywood studios has been done yet but there has been talks and they hope its high production value and international cast & crew will appeal to everybody and achieve blockbuster success.
The film is aiming for a summer
or Christmas release in 2011. You'll find a news clips on the press conference containing some raw footage below.
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