Skydance and Alibaba Pictures are teaming on The Flying Tigers, a film about the volunteer group of U.S. Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines that defended China against Japanese forces before America entered World War II. They were conscripted into the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force. Braveheart scribe Randall Wallace is set to write the script, with Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg producing alongside the Alibaba Pictures team.

Randall_Wallace_HeadshotAlibaba Pictures is Alibaba Group’s entertainment affiliate, and they and Skydance will finance the film together. This comes after Ellison set $700M in new funding for Skydance to boost the volume of global-minded tentpole pictures and TV projects. Skydance and Alibaba got into business last summer on Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The Flying Tigers tells of a unique brotherhood formed that formed between the soldiers. They fought under the command of Capt. Claire Lee Chennault, a retired Army Air Corps officer who was working in China before the war began.

David_Ellison_SkydanceMedia_Headshot“This production partnership with Alibaba Pictures on Flying Tigers marks an important next step in our strategy to expand the reach of the Skydance brand on a global basis,” Ellison said. “We could not be more excited to work with the incomparable Randall Wallace to bring to life the extraordinary, untold story of the great commitment and sacrifices made by this courageous group of pilots.”

Said Alibaba Pictures president Zhang Wei: “Flying Tigers carries with it a rich legacy and a movie about this subject matter has been highly anticipated for a very long time. It is an ideal piece of content in which to invest and produce with Skydance, a studio with a proven track record of bringing films to the big screen that are both sweeping in scope and universal in appeal.”

Wei_Zhang_Alibaba_Headshot“Skydance’s relationship with Alibaba Pictures got off to a great start last summer with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and we look forward to deepening our ties even further as we jointly develop, produce and finance Flying Tigers, an authentic story that draws from both Chinese and U.S. history,” said Skydance Chief Operating Officer Jesse Sisgold.

Next up for Skydance is the July 22 release Star Trek Beyond and October 21 release Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, with Paramount. Geostorm will be released January 13 by Warner Bros, and the Daniel Espinosa-directed Mars mission movie Life with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal will be released by Sony on March 24, 2017.