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TV drama remade with fewer songs to appeal to modern tastes

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-31 07:42
A remake of the 1992 sensational TV drama The Legend of White Snake will conclude filming in July and plans to be screened next year.[Photo provided to China Daily]

One of the most broadcast TV dramas is The Legend of White Snake, a 50-episode series that debuted in 1992. But the tale, based on a book from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), is now being remade and stars Yu Menglong and Ju Jingyi.

Filming of the remake, which began in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, in early March, is scheduled to end of June.

The remake, also titled The Legend of White Snake, is licensed from Taiwan Television Enterprise-the maker of the original series-and will maintain the main storyline, but reduce the number of episodes to 36.

Over the past 26 years, the legend has inspired a string of films and TV dramas, such as Tsui Hark's martial arts fantasy, Green Snake and actress Liu Tao's 30-episode period drama, Madam White Snake.

But Zhu Kai, the chief producer of the remake and vice-president of ChineseAll Digital Publishing Group, says they stuck with the 1992 drama, starring Angie Chiu and Cecilia Yip, as it's the most popular.

"We acquired the copyrights of the script and all the songs from the Taiwan company, and tried to stay faithful to the original version."

The remake is jointly financed by ChineseAll, one of the country's largest digital-content publishers, and the leading online-video platform, iQiyi.

The story is set in Hangzhou, then the capital of the Southern Song court, and is about a 1,000-year-old snake spirit which that's transformed into a beautiful woman and falls in love with a young man. But the lovers are forced to separate by a Buddhist monk.

The monk named Fahai is depicted as a stubborn person, who cannot understand love.

Zhu says the new TV drama will feature a younger Fahai with a more complex personality.

He also says that the characters of the two snake spirits-the white one named Bai Suzhen and her younger sister, a green snake named Xiaoqing-will be loosely based on the snake Kaa in the Disney movie The Jungle Book.

"But the director thought Kaa looks more like a male snake so he made the visual-effects team give the characters a more female look," says Zhu.

Some of the songs from the 1992 version, which make up nearly 40 percent of the total scenes in that series, will be cut in the remake, as youngsters now want a faster pace, says Zhu.

The new drama is scheduled to premier next year.

Separately, ChineseAll, with its literature website 17K.com boasting more than 1 million online novelists, has launched a project seeking a writer to adapt the script into an online novel.

Dai Hezhong, executive president of ChineseAll, says The Legend of White Snake is one of the company's franchise projects to link literature and screen productions.

There are similar projects for The Rise of Phoenixes, a 70-episode TV series starring A-listers Chen Kun and Ni Ni; and the 50-episode police-themed TV drama Age of Legends, starring Hong Kong singer-actor William Chan and actress Ma Sichun, a best actress winner at the 53rd Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival.

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