Sony’s Columbia Pictures announced Wednesday its plans to remake “My Best Friend’s Wedding” — in Chinese.
The studio has partnered with several Chinese filmmakers and production companies to make three Chinese-language movies, with one being a re-telling of the hit Julia Roberts romantic comedy. Six of the ten highest-grossing movies released in China over the past five years have been in the country’s native tongue, encouraging many in Hollywood to contemplate changing their approach to the world’s second largest film market.
Village Roadshow, producer of “The Great Gatsby” and “The Lego Movie,” has a sister company dedicated to Chinese-language productions, while Disney just announced a new partnership with a Chinese company to make English-language films.
“Columbia Pictures is reemphasizing our long established commitment to Chinese local language production,” Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, said in statement. “We are delighted to be collaborating with such world class filmmakers as Chen Kaige and Jiang Wen, as well as partnering with esteemed Chinese production companies like New Classics Media, as we ramp up our activity in China.”
Sony’s first of three films entering production is “The Monk,” a martial arts movie with Cao Huayi. Acclaimed filmmaker Chen Kaige will direct from a script based on a best-selling novel by Xu Haofeng, a director and writer who worked on Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmaster.”
The film stars Wang Baoqiang, the star of “Lost in Thailand,” one of the highest-grossing movies in Chinese history. “The Monk” is China’s second recent production in mainland China, following Jiang Wen’s “Gone With the Bullets.” The film is set to open next summer.
New Classics Media will distribute “The Monk” for Columbia in China, and will work with the studio on the “Wedding” remake when it enters production in 2014. Columbia’s third film, “Summer Has Tears” with Ruyi Media, will start shooting later this year.
Few Chinese language movies make money in the United States, but Sony produced “Couching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” the highest-grossing foreign language movie in U.S. history.