BURBANK, Calif. and SHANGHAI, Nov. 22 — The Walt Disney Company in China today announced the start of production on its third local co-production project in just two years, “Disney High School Musical: China.” Working with local partners Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, the movie is planned for cinematic release in summer 2010.
Under development for over a year, and created uniquely for Chinese audiences, “Disney High School Musical: China” is the story of a new student who meets a gifted young man with whom she shares a secret passion for singing. With the help of their friends they overcome the odds to win an inter-school singing competition, and discover their true calling in the process.
“Disney’s ongoing commitment to local content development underpins our strategy to connect with new audiences around the world,” said Mr. Jason Reed, general manager, Walt Disney Studios International Production. “Our local team has done an amazing job and we are fortunate to be building on the Disney Channel’s success by working with a world class cast and crew led by our producer Janet Yang and visionary director Shi Zheng Chen.
“The choice of the right stories and best local partners is key to the success of our localization strategy. Shanghai Media Group and Huayi Brothers Media Corporation are leaders in their field and their involvement and contribution to this project is invaluable,” added Mr. Reed.
In 2007, the Studio’s first Disney branded local co-production, the award-winning, “The Magic Gourd” was released, followed by “Roadside Romeo” from India in 2008, “Trail of the Panda” (China 2009) and the feature film, “Book of Masters” (Russian 2009), based on a classic Russian fairy tale which opened in first place at the box office in October. Disney’s sixth local production “Zokkomon” is currently in development in India and is expected to open in 2010.
“Chinese audiences enjoy great storytelling. “Disney High School Musical: China” promotes classic values of teamwork, optimism, friendship, pride and the spirit of self discovery which have made HSM a worldwide phenomenon and further cements Disney’s position as a family entertainment brand in China,” said Mr. Stanley Cheung, executive vice president and managing director, The Walt Disney Company Greater China.
“Disney High School Musical: China” is being filmed in Shanghai and features six new young stars drawn from across China.
Ms. Yang Wenhong, head of SMG’s Film and TV Drama Centre said, “High School Musical is a brand recognized and is beloved by kids and families globally. For SMG, this is a whole new experience to develop a China version by working with Disney and Huayi Brothers. Through our collaboration, we hope we can also bring the musical genre to movie goers here as well.”
“Disney HSM: China is destined to pioneer a new genre for young Chinese moviegoers by seamlessly combining the art forms of dance, music and film together with valuable themes like teamwork, youthful energy and friendship,” said Huayi Brothers Media Corporation President James Wang.
CHEN SHI-ZHENG (director), one of China’s leading stage and film directors, most recently helmed “The Coronation of Poppea” for English National Opera. His other Western operatic credits include “Vespers of 1610,” “Orfeo” (a nominee for a Laurence Olivier Award), “Cosi fan Tutte,” “Dido and Aeneas,” and “The Flying Dutchman.” Born in Changsha, Hunan, China, Chen made his directorial debut in 1996 with “The Bacchae” for the China National Beijing Opera Company. In 1999, his landmark 19-hour production of “The Peony Pavilion” was hailed as one of the most important theatrical events of the Twentieth Century. Additional directing credits include the operas “Monkey: Journey to the West,” “Orphan of Zhao,” “Snow in June,” “Peach Blossom Fan,” and “Night Banquet.” His first feature film, “Dark Matter,” was an official entry at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Award. In 2000, Chen was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.JANET YANG (producer) has worked in the film industry for more than two decades, played an important role in bringing Hollywood films to China, and been associated with some of the best known directors and actors in the world. From 1989 – 1996, she served as president of Ixtlan, the company she ran with Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, and spearheaded all aspects of the company’s development and production. Prior to that, she worked closely with Steven Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment as a production executive at MCA/Universal. While at Universal, she initiated the project “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.” Representing several of the top Hollywood Studios, she brokered the sale of the first American movies sold in the Chinese Market. Named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood” by the Hollywood Reporter, and featured in articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, Harper’s Bazaar, Yang’s resume also includes Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun,” Milos Forman’s “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” and Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club.” She continues to produce films under her long-time banner, “The Manifest Film Company.”