Reteaming after 2014’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Jiaflix Pictures, China Movie Channel’s 1905 Pictures and Lorenzo di Bonaventura are revving up Speedhunters (working title), as they eye the start of a global franchise. The $100M futuristic action thriller has The Fast And The Furious and xXx helmer Rob Cohen aboard to direct from a script by Josh Parkinson. Huahua Media, whose Chairman Kenneth Huang is a co-founder of Jiaflix, is one of the main Chinese investment partners who has committed to the pic which will feature a Chinese and international cast. Principal photography starts in July in Shanghai, at Germany’s Studio Babelsberg and other worldwide locations. Release is eyed for summer 2018.
Set in the near future, Speedhunters takes place in the world of Formula racing “where a colorful team of racers and crew gets drawn into high intrigue around a revolutionary technology threatening to change the world as we know it,” say the partners.
While it would seem like a natural fit given the parties’ history, Paramount is not currently involved in the project. It is also not yet determined if the film will be a Chinese co-production. Transformers: Age Of Extinction, which went on to be the highest-grossing film in the Middle Kingdom at the time, was made under a cooperation agreement between Paramount and China. Di Bonaventura is currently producing U.S./China venture Meg from Warner’s Flagship Entertainment. The thriller about a pre-historic shark returned to wreak havoc on the Chinese coastline stars Jason Statham and Li Bingbing.
Di Bonaventura says Speedhunters “has all the tenets of a global franchise with its action sequences, visual effects, relatable characters and a storyline that takes ordinary people through a journey of extraordinary circumstances.”
“We are excited to work with Hollywood powerhouses Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Rob Cohen, both who have exceptional track records in developing and directing multi-billion dollar franchises,” says Jiaflix President Marc Ganis. “Coupled with our team that propelled the 4th installment of the Transformers franchise to unprecedented success in China, we look forward to creating the next big action franchise with Speedhunters that will drive demand and box office performance worldwide.”
“This venture is a reflection of the growing interest and strength of China-U.S. partnerships in bringing excellent films to the international market,” adds Huang.
Jiaflix was also co-founded by Sid and Marc Ganis and acts as a production, marketing and digital distribution partner for filmed entertainment in and with China. 1905’s business covers film development, production management, co-production, marketing, brand cooperation and film distribution. It managed the China portion of production on Transformers: Age of Extinction for Paramount, and was an investor in Terminator Genisys, Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water. It also contributed to the marketing and distribution of Spectre, The Angry Birds Movie and xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage (2017).
Along with Meg, Di Bonaventura Pictures’ upcoming productions include Kidnap with Halle Berry; Unlocked with Noomi Rapace; Transformers: The Last Knight; Granite Mountain, with Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connolly and Taylor Kitsch; Meg; and American Assassin, directed by Michael Cuesta.