New York- and Shanghai-based hedge fund Han Capital Management, founded by John Liu, has raised $500M to finance Chinese film and TV projects. This comes after an initial $200M was earmarked by the fund in early February to finance sister company Han Pictures & Media Corp’s in-house and external productions. Liu is a former Citigroup and SAV Capital Management exec who also is CEO of Han Pictures. That firm recently identified its first two projects, one a $65M WWII drama, the other a $35M TV series.
The entertainment fund’s initial goal is to help finance, produce, develop and distribute 15 features through 2017 with budgets up to $150M. Han Pictures is aiming for global audiences drawn to China-specific stories, Liu has indicated.
The $65M 3D In The Times Of Locusts has A-list U.S. directors and writers in negotiations, per Han Pictures. This is the “untold story” of the aftermath of the Doolittle raid on Tokyo in 1942, which saw the Japanese Army retaliate against Chinese soldiers and civilians. “Long-forgotten missionary records discovered in the archives of DePaul University for the first time shed important new light on the extent to which the Chinese suffered in the aftermath of the Doolittle raid,” Liu said. “The trying times of the episode of history and life and death forged lifelong admiration and friendships between Americans and the people of China.”
The 12-episode Empress Of Tang also has A-list U.S. directors and “a team of top U.S. writers” in negotiations, Han Pictures said earlier this month. Described as an “intense” Chinese drama with elements of Starz’ Spartacus and HBO’s Rome and Gladiator, Empress Of Tang will focus on the life and times of China’s only female Emperor, Empress Wu, who led the Middle Kingdom during the Zhou Dynasty (684-705). Han Pictures wiill oversee with Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Other projects on Han Pictures’ slate include action adventure China’s Indiana Jones; action drama, Plant Hunter; crime drama Deadly Strike; and stock market crash crime thriller Barbarian.
The company also says it is developing a sci-fi franchise to kick off with Gargantuan, a $100M 3D Godzilla-meets-San Andreas. U.S. and China talent will feature, and said Han in a press release this month, the franchise could be tied-into characters from the Transformers universe in the 3rd installment.
Han Pictures says it will use Chinese production facilities like Wanda Studios Qingdao and China Film Group Studios in Beijing, as well as other global hubs.
Liu said, “We are the only production entity in China that is building China-based franchise stories to compete with U.S./Hollywood franchises in addition to developing compelling China stories and animation projects that can compete in the global arena. China is ready to compete globally and the local market is so large now that a large budgeted film can succeed even without the rest of the world. Our projects are attracting and will attract the very best global talents to ensure that success.”