EXCLUSIVE: Bryan Singer has hired Chris Lee to become CEO of his Bad Hat Harry production banner. Lee, the former TriStar and Columbia Pictures president, took a detour to teach, and more recently has been making movies in China. He reunites with Singer after they worked together on films including Valkyrie and Superman Returns. Lee will work alongside Bat Hat Harry president Jason Taylor at a busy time for the company.
Singer has also hired Charles Hwong to be VP Production. Hwong has experience both in China and the U.S. After working in physical production on films including Iron Man 3, he moved to the business side and most recently established Huayi Brothers’ expansion into America. He opened their first U.S. office in Los Angeles this year as that company moved into co-financing and producing English-language content for the China market.
It’s not a coincidence that Lee and Hwong have strong ties to China. Singer is in pre-production to direct and produce Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic of Queen singer Freddy Mercury that will star Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek. But the filmmaker has designs to expand into producing both film and TV in the Middle Kingdom.
Lee, who moved from Sony to become the founding president of Legendary Pictures, is the founder-director of the University of Hawaii Academy for Creative Media System, which supports media programs on 10 campuses throughout the island state. As studio chief and producer — he was the first Asian American to head a studio — Lee has been involved in such films as Jerry Maguire, Philadelphia, As Good As It Gets, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Legends Of The Fall, and The Fisher King. He has also produced films in China, starting with One Foot Off The Ground for Huayi Bros, and is currently developing the screen adaptation of Hao Jinfang’s Folding Beijing with writer-director Josh Kim. Lee produced that filmmaker’s Thai film How To Win At Checkers (Every Time).
Singer said he was glad to renew the long association with Lee. “We first met when he was running Columbia TriStar, where he was responsible for some of their biggest and most critically acclaimed hits,” Singer said. “We went on to produce several films together and have remained very close friends. This combined with his extensive knowledge and contacts within the global media community make him the ideal candidate to lead and expand my company.”
Said Lee: “I am thrilled to be back in Hollywood working again with my good friend Bryan Singer. I am excited and honored to lead the Bad Hat Harry Team in new strategic directions as the company continues to create entertaining and impactful content for global audiences.”
Singer last directed and produced X-Men: Apocalypse, and his Bad Hat Harry’s next TV project will be Legion, an FX series based on the Marvel Comics character that will debut early next year.