Marvel directors make major studio foray in Chinese mainland

Updated: 2015-12-17 08:23

By Wang Kaihao(China Daily USA)

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Will the Marvel Universe have a Chinese counterpart soon?

The answer is "probably".

Anthony and Joe Russo, the brothers who directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and are behind the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (2016) as well as Avengers: Infinity War (2018) on Monday announced the launch of SeeJee Studios, a film studio designed to create closer cinematic ties between China and the United States.

 Marvel directors make major studio foray in Chinese mainland

Anthony (right) and Joe Russo establish SeeJee Studios, a film studio designed to create closer cinematic ties between China and the United States. Provided to China Daily

The newly established studio, co-founded with United Entertainment Partners, a Beijing-based film distributor, and HDQH, a Beijing-based private-equity fund, is based in both Beijing and Los Angeles.

It plans to make at least two Chinese-language blockbusters by the end of 2018. But budgets for the new productions have not yet been released.

Though the directors did not disclose details of the new films, they say that fantasy and mythology would be in focus.

"We will do big-scale storytelling, using graphics and vivid effects, like our Marvel movies," Joe Russo says, adding that they would "look for stories from Chinese narratives and mythology".

"China is now a very culturally powerful market," he says explaining the brothers' motives for stepping into China.

"We want to cooperate with voices in Chinese cinema, because they feed us and inspire us.

Marvel directors make major studio foray in Chinese mainland

"We'll listen to young Chinese filmmakers about what a shared universe will be, and what kind of mythology we can build together with them."

According to him, the new studio will also cooperate with entertainment conglomerates other than Marvel, both in China and the US, but the stories will be developed from Chinese material rather than taken from Hollywood. The technicians and artistic team will mostly come from China.

He also says that Jiang Wen and Li Bingbing are among Chinese filmmakers the brothers want to cooperate with most.

Though an international cast is being considered for the upcoming films, whether to invite A-list Hollywood stars will depend on specific themes.

Echoing the sentiment that the film ties between the two countries will grow, Anthony Russo says: "With the Chinese market growing it's natural to attract more people (Hollywood directors), and for Chinese cinema to go international. I think you will see more back and forth from now on, and see more people like us."

He also sees more Hollywood directors participating in the making of Chinese-language films in the near future.

Separately, Joe Russo says that there could also be more forms of cooperation, like developing franchises. As directors of the popular comedy series, Community, they are perhaps keeping their options open.

But sounding a note of caution, Jiang Wusheng, general manager of United Entertainment Partners, says: "I feel today's Chinese film market is a little overheated and blind, and needs guidance on where to invest.

"As everyone is eager to get talent, it will be a trend for domestic production companies to get hold of top Hollywood directors for their companies. However, no matter what genre is chosen, we have to respect Chinese filmgoers."

(China Daily USA 12/17/2015 page12)