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China / Across America

Chinese film company looks to strike a pose in The Devil Wears Prada remake

By William Hennelly (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-03-17 10:56

In the planned Chinese remake of The Devil Wears Prada, which actress will icily detail the fashion history of cerulean blue?

Beijing-based Desen International Media, according to the Hollywood Reporter, will produce a version of the popular 2006 comedy that starred Meryl Streep as the imperious editor of the fashion magazine Runway and Anne Hathaway as an indifferent intern.

Streep, in the role of Miranda Priestly, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and also was nominated for an Oscar.

The Chinese cast, however, won't be clickety-clacketing on stiletto heels around Manhattan. Instead, they will be navigating the glass towers of Shanghai, where the remake will be set.

The original The Devil Wears Prada was released in China in February 2007, eight months after it opened in the United States. The film was a smash hit in major Chinese cities, with corporations conducting screenings for Women's Day parties on March 8, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Chinese-language version of the original 2003 novel by Lauren Weisberger, in which the Streep character was widely interpreted to be based on Vogue Editor Anna Wintour, also became a bestseller.The book is available on Amazon in both simplified and traditional Chinese.

Desen, founded by film producer Ann An in 2006, did not say if it has secured the movie rights to the book.

China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has approved the film project.

"Terrific film. It's the kind of story that could work very well in China," said Robert Cain, a Los Angeles writer and producer and publisher of ChinaFilmBiz, a blog focused on China's movie industry.

"The audience there is a very strong, young female audience and there have been a lot of movies made and distributed very successfully" for female moviegoers, Cain told China Daily.

"Desen has had a lot of success in the past" with films geared toward women, said Cain, who has consulted for clients such as CCTV, Shanghai Media Group and China Film Group.

The movie would do well if it follows the success of the 2013 smash Tiny Times, which has pretty much the same story line.

"The film's main thread (is) the efforts of fumbling girl-next-door Lin Xiao (Mini Yang) ... settling into her job at a fashion magazine and acclimatizing herself to the glamorous, high-octane world of haute couture," was how the Hollywood Reporter described it.

The film, which generated a flurry of sequels, told the story of four fashionable college girls in Shanghai, which the Los Angeles Times described as "The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City (minus the sex)".

The movie was based on a series of novels by Guo Jingming, who also directed it. The picture opened a surprising gulf in public opinion, with fans embracing its celebration of the good life as others decried it as materialistic.

"Materialism is something we face every day now, and it is not dirty," Guo told China Daily in 2013. "Our film audiences are much younger than before. They live with materialism."

China Daily's Raymond Zhou was one of the film's critics.

"When I first criticized Tiny Times, tens of thousands of Guo Jingming's fans swarmed to my micro blog, leaving all kinds of nasty - but often childishly laughable - words," Zhou wrote early this year. "Guo had won a base of some 10-20 million loyalists through his fiction, most of whom are teenage girls. His public response to my criticism essentially started a call to action.

"I was only one of hundreds of critics who lambasted his film, yet I was turned into a symbol of acerbic criticism since he responded to only mine, thus 'elevating me out of mass oblivion' in the words of some Guo devotees."

But the film also won support from state media.

Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times, complimented Guo's mastery of "subtle emotions".

"I believe [Guo] is a superman who can decipher many types of delight and sorrow," he wrote on Weibo.

Contact the writer at williamhennelly@chinadailyusa.com

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