The two-picture pact covers the live-action comedy Silkworms and the animated feature Wolf Totem. Silkworms revolves around two bumbling monks sent to ancient China by the Holy Roman Emperor to steal the closely guarded secret of Chinese silk production. Based on Lü Jiamin’s novel, Wolf Totem portrays the life-and-death struggle on the great Mongolian plains.
“Silkworms’ is based on true events and is actually the first case of industrial espionage in history,” Minkoff said. “The success of the recent live-action adaptation of Wolf Totem has inspired us to take a different approach and tell the story from the wolves’ point of view. It’s what animation does best.”
Minkoff is no stranger to working with Middle Kingdom themes. He directed the 2008 Jackie Chan-Jet Li film The Forbidden Kingdom, in which a kung fu-obsessed American teenager journeys to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors to free the imprisoned Monkey King. His directing credits also include Mr. Peabody And Sherman, The Lion King and the Stuart Little films. His next project as a producer is Blazing Samurai, an animated family film with a big-name voice cast that Open Road will release in 2017.
“Silkworms and Wolf Totem are perfect examples of the ambitious, cross-over projects we look for,” said Le Vision Chairman and CEO Zhang Zhao said. “As one of Hollywood’s most established and constantly creative talents, Rob is exactly who we look for in a long-term partner and someone whose passion for each project matches our own.”
The deal was negotiated by Steve Saltzman of Loeb & Loeb and Le Vision Pictures USA EVP Simon Sun, as well as Cheryl Snow of Gang Tyre and Adam Kanter of Paradigm. Last week, Le Vision Pictures USA acquired rights to Jayson Rothwell’s script Zodiac: The Year Of The Snake, with producer Bernie Goldmann attached.