Are you ready for Captain China? That’s what China’s local media has already dubbed the just-announced superhero film series in development from Joe and Anthony Russo, the brother director team behind Captain America: Civil War in conjunction with Beijing-based production company FangJin Visual Media Culture Communication Company.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film series will be called A Hero’s Awakening (at least in English — in Chinese, it will be 英雄觉醒). The Russo brothers will be using the Chinese-based production company they set up in March, called Anthem & Song, to develop the project. Fangjin CEO Li Xing told THR:
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It is fair to say that the Russos are regarded as heroes in the global film business. In the future, everyone will be focused on the China market. By working with the Russos, we want to use the best visual storytelling to make localized films that fit the Chinese market.
This is the latest big move in a Hollywood industry increasingly catering to a international audience — especially the Chinese audience. It is predicted that, by next year, China will be the world’s largest box office market. We’ve already seen major blockbusters accommodating the Chinese audience (i.e. The Martian, which slightly altered a book subplot, seemingly to make the film even more appealing for Chinese viewers). The increase in direct co-production between Hollywood and China on major blockbusters seems a likely next step.
Co-production is a smart way for Hollywood to get in on the Chinese box office market, which almost doubled last year (to a whopping $6.8 billion). Though Hollywood blockbusters still generally do incredibly well in China, they are taking up a smaller percentage of the box office in relation to Chinese films. Chinese-American blockbusters could be the secret to continued financial success for American filmmakers and production companies.
Anthony Leonardi III, a concept artist on everything from Game of Thrones to The Jungle Book, has been brought on as an artistic director alongside a yet to be determined (or at least announced) Chinese director. The cast will be entirely Chinese, with the Russo brothers involved in the casting process. A Hero’s Awakening is the first film in a planned trilogy.
This is the second big development announcement from the Russo brothers this week. They are also planning on developing a half-hour comedy about a family of pot dealers for Showtime. Basically, the mainstream media world is their oyster. I guess that’s what happens when you direct a film that is projected to cross the $750 million worldwide box office mark after only two weekends of domestic release.