Correction: The planned budget is actually $20 million, which puts China's stake at $6 million.
In what is being described as the largest ever co-production between Korea and China, CJ Entertainment have announced plans to move ahead with their long-gestating sci-fi fantasy project The Fist
, with Welcome to Dongmakgol
's Park Kwang-hyun at the helm.
Originally called Kwon Bob and set to go before cameras in 2011 with Jo In-sung (A Dirty Carnival) in the lead, a skittish CJ pulled the plug on the project following the disastrous performance of Sector 7 that summer. Park's project has been revived in the midst of the industry's current mini-boom and particularly following CJ's first major international success with their China-set romcom A Wedding Invitation, which scored over $30 million this Spring on the mainland alone.
China Film Group and Pegasus & Taihe will kick in $6 million, which will account for only 30% of the $20 million budget. Showbox recently did a similar thing when the Huayi Brothers company from China financed a quarter of their Mr. Go's $25 million price tag. That film will hit screens next month.
The Fist is about a man with superhuman powers who battles injustice in a small community deep in the forest. Park made a big name for himself following his blockbuster debut Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) which scored 8 million admissions on the Peninsula. Though that was a critically acclaimed film, it was also written and produced by Jang Jin. The last time one of Jang's proteges struck it out on his own was Ra Hee-chan, who directed Jang's wonderful Going by the Book (2007) before helming the atrocious Mr. Idol (2011). This doesn't mean Park will stumble out the gate with his sophomore film but his debut's strength may not necessarily be an indicator of his ability.
The film will be guaranteed wide distribution in both Korea and China but this seems like a big gamble for CJ, who have been aggressively pushing into the ever-expanding Chinese market. My feeling is that, just as with Sector 7, the success of Snowpiercer and Mr. Go this Summer will have a large say in determining this project's future.
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