Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sony Pictures invests in new Zhang Yimou movie

HONG KONG – The art house division of Sony Pictures Entertainment says it has invested in Chinese director Zhang Yimou's first film since he designed the Beijing Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies last year.

Sony Pictures Classics said it formed a "production partnership" with Zhang for his adaptation of the Coen brothers' 1984 movie "Blood Simple," and has bought its distribution rights in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.

Bebe Lerner, a publicist for Sony Pictures Classics, declined to say how much the company was investing.

The comedy-thriller is about the owner of a Chinese noodle shop whose plan to kill his cheating wife and her lover "spins out of control after the introduction of a gun into the lives of characters more accustomed to knives and swords," Sony Pictures Classics said in a statement sent to The Associated Press late Friday.

The 1984 original starring Frances McDormand is about a Texas bar owner who hires a private detective to kill his wife and her lover. The movie won the Grand Jury Prize for best film at the United States Film Festival — the predecessor to the Sundance Film Festival — helping establish Joel and Ethan Coen's reputations.

The brothers went on to make a string of successful films including "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "No Country for Old Men," which won Oscars for best picture and best director.

Beijing New Picture Film Co. publicist Ping Xue said Thursday Zhang's adaptation — starring Chinese actor Sun Honglei, comedian Xiao Shenyang and actress Yan Ni — was currently filming in Beijing and will be released in December.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" producer Bill Kong is serving the same role on Zhang's new film, which is called "San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi" in Chinese but doesn't have an English title yet.

The Chinese director, whose last film was the 2006 Chinese imperial court drama "Curse of the Golden Flower," is also scheduled to direct a gala celebrating the 60th anniversary of communist China on Oct. 1.

Zhang's credits also include "Raise the Red Lantern," "Red Sorghum," "To Live," "Ju Dou," "Hero" and the "House of Flying Daggers."

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