Low-bud­get Chi­nese science fic­tion film on the hori­zon

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE - By XU­FAN

Most peo­ple take it for granted that mak­ing a science fic­tion film must be ex­pen­sive be­cause of its dig­i­tal ef­fects.

ButTen­cen­tPic­tures, the­film arm of in­ter­net gi­ant Ten­cent, re­cently said it is ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of mak­ing a low­bud­get sci-fi movie.

Ti­tled Path Finder, the forth­com­ing flick fea­tures in the lat­est lineup of 21 movies and tele­vi­sion series to be made or co-de­vel­oped by Ten­cent Pic­tures.

A Chi­nese twist on the Star Trek fran­chise, the movie is based on its pop­u­lar name­sake on­line comic book, which fol­lows a group of Chi­nese ad­ven­tur­ers who ex­plore space.

The book, which is still be­ing up­dated on­line, has ac­cu­mu­lated nearly 140 mil­lion clicks and has 9.1 points out of 10 on Ac.qq.com, Ten­cent’s web­site spe­cial­iz­ing in comics.

Film critic-turned-new­bie di­rec­tor Zhang Xiaobei says his maiden work has a bud­get of a fewmil­lion yuan— afrac­tion of atyp­i­calHol­ly­wood­sci-fi­movie.

A sci-fi fan since child­hood, Zhang, 41, has al­ways been fas­ci­nated by Star Wars and also loves Alien and Blade Run­ner.

A key is­sue for the di­rec­tor is whether he can find a Chi­nese way tomake sci-fi movies.

Hol­ly­wood has a long his­tory when­it­comesto­such­films, but the genre has de­vel­oped mainly dur­ing the past decade in China.

A widely held view is that Chi­nese film­mak­ers do not have the ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy or the bud­gets to make such movies.

“So, the so­lu­tion is to ex­plore anewway— un­likethe­for­mula typ­i­cally fol­lowed by Hol­ly­wood,” says Zhang.

He says Path Finder will stress roles, emo­tional bonds and the char­ac­ters’ hu­man­ity.

“Emo­tions, such as fear and love, are uni­ver­sal and ap­peal to au­di­ences re­gard­less of na­tion­al­ity or lan­guage,” he says.

The script has just been re­vised and dig­i­tal sets are be­ing worked on. Film­ing is ex­pected to start ear­lynext year.

Path Finder, in­ci­den­tally, is not the only low-bud­get sci-fi film on the way.

Award-win­ning di­rec­tor Lu Chuan, who rose to promi­nence with Keh Xil: Moun­tain Pa­trol, hasteamedup­with­Ten­cent Pic­tures on 20,000 Miles Plan.

The film, which was also one Chi­nese of the projects listed on Sept 17, is part sci-fi, and is in­spired by Lu’s years work­ing in a su­per­nat­u­ral-phe­nom­e­non-re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, a source says.

Mean­while, al­though it is too early to pre­dict how this new ap­proach with re­gard to sci-fi will­work, this­timeTen­cen­tPic­tures is putting em­pha­sis on orig­i­nal­ity.

The big­gest in­vest­ment when it comes to mak­ing movies is pa­tience, says Cheng Wu, vice-pres­i­dent of Ten­cent and CEOof Ten­cent Pic­tures.

“The Chi­nese movie in­dus­try is al­ready at a new level. By be­ing brave, ex­plor­ing ex­per­i­men­tal forms and pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity to those out­side the charmed cir­cle, we will cre­ate more pos­si­bil­i­ties,” he says.

Sep­a­rately, other up­com­ing pro­duc­tions that are gar­ner­ing in­ter­est are the com­ing-of-age thriller Blood of Youth, which is akin to doc­u­men­tary hor­ror film Zhong Xie (Haunted); the an­i­mated re­make of The Snow Child; Tuzki (based on a pop­u­lar rab­bit char­ac­ter) and theTV series Fighter of Des­tiny.

Fighter of Des­tiny, fea­tur­ing ac­tor Lu Han, has a bud­get of 400 mil­lion yuan ($60 mil­lion).

The Ten­cent list of up­com­ing films also in­cludes some in­ter­na­tional co­pro­duc­tions.

Ja­panese film­mak­erTakashige Ichise, who’s known for The Grudge, will work with­Ten­cent Pic­tures to pro­duceKo­sei­don, a cin­e­matic re­make of the pop­u­lar Ja­panese TV series Di­nosaur Corps Ko­sei­don.

Among the other col­lab­o­ra­tions is the mon­ster epic Kong: Skull Is­land, slated for re­lease in­March 2017.

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