A Li Bingbing action film is at the head of a 14-film slate worth AU$400 million (US$302 million) announced last week in Beijing, a significant expansion of production under Australia’s 2006 co-production treaty with China.
Guardians of the Tomb, (aka Nest) stars Li Bingbing and Kelsey Grammer and is currently in post-production for 2017 release. Also on the slate is the Jackie Chan film Bleeding Steel, co-starring Australian actor Callan Mulvey (Underbelly), now in post-production and set for release later this year.
Recently added to the slate was At Last, described by Screen Australia as “the story of a couple from Beijing who find themselves caught in a complex art heist while on holiday in Australia.” Casting is currently underway in Queensland.
The new titles are part of a move to expand the use of the treaty and take advantage of China’s stature as the world’s second-largest cinema market. Under the agreement’s terms, qualified films may be imported to China and exhibited on a revenue-sharing basis without counting against the country’s annual 34-film quota for such movies.
In the first 10 years of the agreement, only five films were produced, including 2008’s Children of the Silk Road, 2010’s The Dragon Pearl, starring Sam Neill, and 2011’s 33 Postcards with Guy Pearce.
“We have seen increased interest in Australian-Chinese co-productions with At Last being the fourth feature announced since late 2015. This upswing in activity is the result of seven years of engagement with the Chinese screen industry and the sustained support of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television in China,” said Richard Harris, Head of Business and Audience of Screen Australia, in a statement.