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Sherlock star part of Chinese romantic comedy

By Bo Leung in London | | Updated: 2018-03-13 00:10

The British actor Rupert Graves, who shot to fame playing Detective Inspector Lestrade in the BBC television series Sherlock, is shooting a romantic comedy aimed at Asian audiences.

Graves and a Chinese film crew have been seen in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where they are filming a movie called Special Couple.

In June 2016, the China-UK Film Fund signed a strategic partnership with China’s SMG Pictures to shoot the comedy. Special Couple is fully financed by SMG Pictures, which is the film production arm of media and entertainment giant Shanghai Media Group.

The movie is believed to be one of the first feature films to be produced as part of a China-UK co-production treaty signed in April 2014 between the UK government and Beijing.

While filming has been going on in various locations in Belfast, it’s thought that the Northern Irish capital city is being used as a stand-in for London.

According to The Irish News the movie is being directed by Huang Lei and produced by Huang Jianxin and Chris Curling, but little is known about the script.

Deirdre McCanny, who owns Co Couture, an artisan chocolate shop in the city’s Chichester Street, where some of the filming took place, told The Irish News she was delighted her store was chosen as a location.

“The Chinese film crew came in back in January to scout for locations and they really liked the underground open space of Co Couture,” she said. “The director wanted the main character to live in a basement apartment, something that’s rather hard to come by in Belfast, but Co Couture fitted the bill perfectly.”

It’s thought a replica of the basement property has been built in China, and most of the interior shots will be filmed there.

McCanny said it was a shock to see the Sherlock star. She and her staff had not known he was going to be in the film.

“It’s super-exciting to be part of and, hopefully, as there is a massive Chinese market here, we will get to see the movie when it’s released,” she said.

According to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, China’s box office revenue rose 13.45 percent in 2017, to more than 55.9 billion yuan ($8.6 billion) for the year.

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