Two of the seven executive producers on the Oscar favorite The Revenant — Markus Barmettler and Philip Lee — have just formed a Hong Kong- and Beijing-based production and finance company called Facing East Ltd. Their hope is to produce three to four large-scale productions every two years.
The first of these is Inversion, a big-budget (think $120M+) sci-fi epic that Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Get Smart) is attached to direct He also has been developing the current screenplay with Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash) and is casting, with principal photography set to begin in August. Inversion follows a streetwise American con man and a young Chinese physicist as they race against the clock to save the earth from a terrifying loss of gravity. Michael Nozik (Syriana, The Motorcyle Diaries) is producing and Michael Ewing is exec producing the project. They plan to go before the cameras in late August.
Earlier writers on the screenplay Bragi Schut (Season of the Witch), Academy Award nominee David Arata (Children of Men) and Michael Finch (Hitman: Agent 47).
With international sales being handled by Mark Damon’s Foresight Unlimited, the film already is said to have enjoyed a slew of presales for multiple territories and sales will continue at Cannes next week.
Among the Facing East development slate is Chinatown, to be directed by Ronny Yu (Fearless), who is working on the screenplay with James DiLapo, a 2012 winner of the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting). No, it’s not a remake of the classic Roman Polanski picture; rather, it’s based on the true story of Chang Apana, who singlehandedly fought the systemic corruption of the Honolulu elite at the turn of the 20th century and became the first Chinese police detective in Hawaii.
Markus Barmettler and Lee have had a part in more than 20 productions between them — including Cloud Atlas, Forbidden Kingdom and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon — and most recently helped in developing the multi-picture agreement between Guangdong Alpha Animation and Culture Company, Catchplay Inc. and New Regency. That was the first time that Alpha had invested in Hollywood.
The Revenant was released in China by Huaxia and Bona Film Group in March and pulled in a record $60M for a Hollywood-produced, R-rated movie in that market.
They announced that they are increasing its capital base and financing capabilities, with support from HSBC and the backing of several Mainland Chinese financial institutions.