Reports: 'Bullets' copyright scores Hollywood bullseye

10:37, February 16, 2011      

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Last year's blockbuster comedy Let the Bullets Fly, which became the biggest-grossing Chinese language movie ever, has now set another record - the top price paid in Hollywood for the rights to adapt a Chinese film.

After generating more than 700 million yuan ($106 million) in ticket sales in less than two months, the film quickly drew the attention of US filmmakers.

A Hollywood production house reportedly negotiated for the copyright with the final deal sealed at more than $10 million, China Intellectual Property News cited the film's marketing director Yan Yunfei saying.

The report did not disclose the name of US buyer, but said it was among the top five in Hollywood.

If all goes as announced, the price will easily break the previous record held by Infernal Affairs from famed Hong Kong director Andrew Lau Wai-keung. That copyright sold to Warner Bros for $1.75 million in 2003.

The Hollywood version directed by Martin Scorsese was released in 2006 as The Departed. It generated more than $77 million in ticket revenue in its opening three weeks.

Yan said the mainland blockbuster could have even greater success as remake.

"Our partner has suggested Jiang Wen, the original director, again take charge of the film and promised an all-star cast," said Yan.

It is part of a growing trend in Hollywood to remake Asian films.

Recent successes include Bangkok Dangerous, Color of the Truth and Confession of Pain.

"Chinese films can increase their popularity in Western mainstream markets, while the Hollywood companies get considerable profits in return," said an industry insider.

Yet "it is uncommon for them to buy the copyrights of currently showing overseas films", said an industry insider familiar with Hollywood operations

"They tend to buy one or two years after movies leave cinema screens, like Infernal Affairs."

Zhang Weiping, chief producer at New Pictures Film Co Ltd, said it seems unlikely that Jiang would pick the stars to be used in the Hollywood version.

"Only big-name directors in Hollywood like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tatantino have such options," he said. "If a director is not that famous but has a really fantastic script, he can also select top actors and actresses, but even that only applies to Hollywood directors."

The movie is good enough to catch the attention of Hollywood - and film pirates - so the domestic producer is offering legitimate viewing at a low price.

"We have joined forces with major video portals such as Youku and Tudou to protect our online market," said Yan.

"People can enjoy the high definition genuine edition an unlimited number of times in 48 hours by just paying 5 yuan. This is a trial but may prove to be useful for improvement in copyright protection on the Internet," he said.

China Daily

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