Shanghai-based Pearl Studio, formerly Oriental DreamWorks, is teaming with Kung Fu Hustle and The Mermaid director Stephen Chow to develop an animated feature The Monkey King based on the popular Chinese legend.
Chow’s involvement was announced today at animation festival Annecy in France and represents an exciting collaboration for Pearl, which previously co-produced Kung Fu Panda 3. Chow has not been set as director.
The animation update, adapted from the legend about a monkey who gains supernatural powers, is being written by Ron Friedman and Steve Bencich, whose credits include Brother Bear and Chicken Little.
Multi-hyphenate Chow’s directing credits include The Mermaid and Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, both of which shattered Middle Kingdom box office records, as well as action-comedy Kung Fu Hustle, which grossed more than $100 million worldwide as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe noms.
“Stephen Chow is the perfect creative partner to develop The Monkey King with Pearl Studio,” said Peilin Chou, Chief Creative Officer for Pearl Studio. “His involvement in this very special project, which is beloved throughout Asia, is a true coup. We know that he will bring all the comedy and scope that makes this adventure legend so special and translate The Monkey King into an enchanting and exciting global animated event.”
Pearl also announced today the finalized cast for upcoming feature animation Abominable, which is being directed by Jill Culton and will be released worldwide through Universal Pictures on September 27, 2019. The DreamWorks Animation co-production will feature the voices of Chloe Bennett, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor and Tsai Chin.
As teens who help to reunite a magical Yeti with his family, Bennet will play Yi, as previously announced; Norgay Trainor will voice the role of Yi’s teenage neighbor Jin; Tsai will star as Jin’s younger cousin Peng; and Tsai Chin will voice the role of Yi’s irascible grandmother, Nai Nai.
Culton (Open Season) is directing with Todd Wilderman (Croods) set as co-director. Suzanne Buirgy (Kung Fu Panda 2) serves as producer with Tim Johnson (Over the Hedge) on board as executive producer. Pearl will release in China.
Also in production for the production and distribution outfit is Netflix’s Over the Moon, the animated musical feature directed by animation guru Glen Keane, which is set for a 2020 launch.
In Annecy today, Pearl CCO Chou said the firm wants to make one animated feature each year. The company said it is open to making films anywhere in the world and that it maintains a strong bond with DWA. Headquartered in Shanghai, but with branches in New York and LA, the studio is backed by a consortium led by Chinese venture capital firm CMC Capital Partners.