- Russo Brothers working with Jungle Book illustrator as director
- $30 million Chinese film a co-production with Beijing-based FangJin Visual Media
- Actual title of the action sci-fi film translates roughly as The Hero’s Awakening
The Russo Brothers, the creative duo behind Marvel’s blockbuster Captain America franchise, have joined with a Chinese production company to create a new Chinese superhero movie which local media are dubbing “Captain China.”
According to local media reports, Anthony and Joe Russo, the brother directors, are joining with Beijing FangJin Visual Media Culture Communication Company (方金影视) to make a Chinese action sci-fi film whose actual title translates roughly as The Hero’s Awakening (英雄觉醒’).
Speaking to local media at a signing ceremony to mark the cooperation on Monday, Joe Russo reportedly said he hoped to be able to bring Chinese stories to the big screen. While the “Captain China” film will draw on Hollywood expertise, the story itself will be wholly Chinese, reports said. Calls to Beijing FangJin went unreturned.
In April, Joe Russo told the Los Angeles Times that his team was working with a young Chinese filmmaker on a “superhero origin film” that will “probably go into production in the fall” and has a budget of “about $30 million.”
According to Fangjin’s Weibo account, the company was founded in 2006. The company’s website says it has invested and produced a number of films, including The Sun Beaten Path (太阳总在左边), which won the Dragons & Tigers award at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival.
The announcement comes as the Russo brother arrived back in China to launch the latest installment of the Captain America franchise Captain America: Civil War.
Including previews, Civil War has taken in US $97 million in China since Friday, making it the second-biggest three-day opening in China, behind Fast and Furious 7 in 2015.
Anthony Leonardi III, concept illustrator for Disney’s The Jungle Book, has been invited to be the Russo’s new film’s “U.S. director” and creative director. Leonardi’s first and only feature film was Nothing Left to Fear in 2013.
The Russo brothers have been cultivating their work relationships in China for years and recently set up a startup studio in the country under their Anthem & Song banner with an eye to producing and creating Chinese-language films.
Despite recent pushback from some quarters in Chinese society against a perceived American cultural hegemony, the Captain America franchise has proven to be wildly popular.
Whereas Captain America: Civil War was renamed First Avenger in Russia and South Korea, the film retained its original title in China.
But replicating the success of the Captain America formula in the Chinese market could prove to be a difficult task for the Russo Brothers. Local critics long have doubted that a Chinese super-hero could get off the ground, given the country’s censorship restrictions.
— Additional reporting Chet Leung