Futuristic action-thriller brings together producer of Transformers franchise and director of The Fast And The Furious and xXx.
Jiaflix — the company hatched by longtime Hollywood executive and former AMPAS President Sid Ganis, Kenneth Huang, and Marc Ganis — is teaming up with 1905 Pictures to produce a $100 million futuristic action-thriller with the working title Speedhunters.
An action-thriller set in the near future, the film takes place “in the world of Formula racing, where a colorful team of racers and crew get drawn into high intrigue around a revolutionary technology threatening to change the world as we know it,” per the producers.
The project brings together Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, the prolific tentpole producer of the Transformers films, with director Rob Cohen, helmer of the initial installments of both The Fast And The Furious and xXx series — all of which have enjoyed outsized success in the Chinese market.
In a statement released Wednesday, Cohen described the Speedhunters script by Josh Parkinson (HBO’s Eastbound & Down) as “a story on which I could build a tapestry of break-the-limit speed, adrenaline, and a core group of great characters.”
Marc Ganis, co-founder and managing director of Jiaflix Enterprises, told China Film Insider on Wednesday that the producers aim to make an international film with appeal around the globe, “not just highly weighted toward either China or North America.”
“The idea is to make it the first movie that takes the best of three continents—China for Asia, the US for North America and Germany for Europe,” Ganis told us by phone.
An ensemble cast will feature four main roles, with a Western male alongside Chinese female and male stars, and what is likely to be a European male for the fourth character.
In 2014, Jiaflix, 1905 Pictures and China Movie Channel teamed with Paramount Pictures and producer Di Bonaventura on Transformers: Age of Extinction, which grossed more than $300 million in China, and went on to become the country’s highest-grossing movie ever, for a time.
Huahua Media, of which Jiaflix’s Kenneth Huang is chairman and which has ongoing ties to Paramount, has signed on as one of the main Chinese investment partners. Huang is also an independent board member of Shanghai Film Group.
1905 Pictures is a subsidiary of, and fully funded by state-owned China Movie Channel and 1905. It is part of a joint venture with Jiaflix to provide streaming content for the Chinese market.
Marc Ganis, co-founder and managing director of Jiaflix Enterprises, told China Film Insider on Wednesday that in addition to Huahua Media, 1905 and Jiaflix, four other partners in the venture will be identified later.
“We’re also retaining one small slice for whomever we select as our distributor, to also have some ownership interest in the movie,” Ganis said, adding that the movie will be “funded entirely with equity — no debt whatsoever.”
Ganis expects to finalize one of the big six studios as the minority partner and worldwide distributor (except for China), by the time principal photography in Shanghai and at Studio Babelsberg in Germany begins in July 2017.
Whether the film becomes an official co-production is an “in-process matter” Ganis said.
The producers have high hopes for the project, with plans already underway to expand into additional platforms, including a video game based on the movie.
Speedhunters is being planned for release in summer 2018.