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Aliens on the big screen

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-21 08:00

Aliens on the big screen

Pathfinder, a Chinese sci-fi film by new director Zhang Xiaobei about a group of Chinese stranded on a vast desert on a remote planet, will be released in 2018. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The recent lineup of Tencent Pictures features four new sci-fi movies, which are either set in China or feature Chinese heroes. Xu Fan reports.

When it comes to movies, alien invaders love the United States. But things may be changing thanks to China's booming movie market. The recent lineup released by Tencent Pictures-the movie arm of Chinese tech giant Tencent Inc-has added four new movies to the expanding list of domestic sci-fi titles, which are either set in China or feature Chinese heroes. Among the four is Shanghai Fortress, adapted from the 2006 best-selling novel Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, and it is attracting attention thanks to its star-studded cast.

In the movie, Lu Han, one of China's most popular pop idols who is followed by nearly 39 million fans on the Twitterlike Sina Weibo, will star as a college student-turned-warrior alongside Taiwan actress Shu Qi.

In the film, Shanghai is the last hope for humankind as it fights alien invaders.

Director Teng Huatao, known for online adaptations such as Love Is Not Blind, says the crew prepared the project for five years and worked on the script for three years.

Shanghai Fortress will begin filming on Thursday and is set to debut on the Chinese mainland in 2019.

"China has a huge market, and Chinese audiences will not be satisfied with low-budget comedies or romances," Teng says. "The local industry needs to produce more big movies to win them over with visual and audio feasts."

Besides Shanghai Fortress, Tencent Pictures also plans to make Project 20,000 Miles, a time-and-space travel adventure story set in China.

Lu Chuan, known for Kekexili: Mountain Patrol (2004) and City of Life and Death (2009), will direct the sci-fi movie, which uses talent from Hollywood.

Giving details about the film, Lu, who says that his English has improved a lot, thanks to working with an international crew, adds that the script was revised three times, while declining to give more details.

Meanwhile, Taiwan director Su Chao-pin, known for the award-winning martial arts movie Reign of Assassins (2010), is also cautious when speaking about his new sci-fi film, Dark Side of the Moon, saying: "I wrote the tale around 10 years ago, but I didn't expect that the movie would be made."

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