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Thursday, March 25, 2010

CineMarvellous Preview: Empires of the Deep (2010)



Empires of the Deep (2010)

--> Written by Jiang Hongyu, and produced by Jiang, Byers, and Harrison Liang, the US $50 million (reports now have the films budget at $100 million) "Empires of the Deep" is set in ancient Greece and tells the story of a band of Greek sailors who discover a secret underwater kingdom of mermaids, and must join forces to combat a dark evil that threatens both mermaid and human civilizations. Even though the story is set in the Greek isles, the picture will be shot entirely in China, on sound stages in Beijing, and exotic seaside locations in Fujian and Hainan provinces, making it one of the first Chinese productions based on an entirely Western story.

With Jonathan Lawrence now firmly ensconced as director, despite some sources that still give Pitof the role, "Empires of the Deep" seems now on track. Filming was to begin on 20 November 2009 and set to end on 19 March 2010.

"Empires of the Deep" is without a doubt the most ambitious fantasy film that has ever been attempted in China, so it wouldn't be too surprising to assume that the project would run into a mountain of obstacles ever before filming was slated to begin.

Indeed "Empires of the Deep" has already had a major casting change, Monica Bellucci replacing the disgruntled Sharon Stone as the Mermaid Queen, and director change, Jonathan Lawrence stepping in for the Frenchman, Pitof.

Here is a bit from the E-magine Studios press release about the film:

“Jonathan Lawrence is uniquely suited to direct this epic adventure,” said producer Mark Byers. “His previous films integrate visual effects seamlessly into the story instead of treating them like add-ons, and his global experience allows him to interface with the all-Chinese crew without a hitch.”

The undersea fantasy epic is being touted as the first film in the history of cinema to explore the mystical world of the merfolk — a world “inhabited by mermaids, giants, an evil mage and dozens of different undersea kingdoms and races: each with their own cultural traits.

"Empires of the Deep" will introduce audiences to an entirely brand-new style of huge action set-pieces, a host of fantastical creatures and amazing underwater fight scenes. It will combine mystery and intrigue with incredible sea battles.

Produced by Beijing production company E-magine Studios, Empire of the Deep features extensive visual effects that will set it on the level of a Hollywood studio production, further enhancing the picture’s uniqueness in Chinese cinema.

Concept Art: CGI Creatures:
For the early production artwork it is easy to see why visually, "Empires of the Deep" could be spectacular.
Jonathan Lawrence
“It is an honor to be part of this groundbreaking production, and a great experience to work with such a world-class Chinese crew,” said Lawrence. “Mr. Jiang has an extraordinary vision, and I’m excited to bring his epic story to the big screen.”

On the mermaid side of things at least (the rest of the cast being largely ignored in existing promotional material), the film stars Monica Bellucci as the Mermaid Queen (first below) and Yan Fei as the film’s main aquatic protagonist (second below) — who together cover the gauntlet of cinematic feminine allure from sexy to cute:

Over the past decade Asian cinema has taken major strides in forming a solid base to compete with Hollywood, and with a good cast, creative creature design, elaborate sets, stunning effects, and a good story to work from, "Empires of the Deep" could end up being China's answer to "Avatar". Though it would be hard to gauge at this point how much, if any impact the film will have on the west, or international cinema markets.

At least, at this point, unless suddenly Jonathan Lawrence pulls out to shoot another American TV movie, or actress Monica Bellucci publicly disagrees with Chinese politics, "Empires" will continue moving along as planned and should finish on schedule. As it stands, that, in upon itself is an incredible accomplishment for a film that has been in a various states of flux since it was first conceived of way back in 2006.

Sources: Undead Backbrain / Avery Guerra / Press Release/ Twitchfilm


DEZMOND said...

I couldn't quite imagine Sharon as the mermaid :)

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

No one looks like a mermaid more than Monica Bellucci does ;)Pitch-perfect casting! And thank God Pitof won't direct this! How are you, Dez? I missed your comments :)

DEZMOND said...

I'm also not a fan of that French weirdo Pitof. Both VIDOCQ and CAT WOMEN were deadly horrible. I've never actually understood French idea of art.

Well, you almost never come over to HOLLYWOOD SPY, so I thought you find my comments boring :)

George Beremov [Nebular] said...

You are so wrong, Dez! :) I visit HOLLYWOOD SPY every single day and I read every single post... or at least half of it.. or at least the title!:) I love HOLLYWOOD SPY! I'm just not a big 'commentor'
You have to be sure about one thing - Your comments are the most appreciated! ;)