Alibaba, 'Harry Potter' producer to make 'Warriors' movie

LOUISE WATT
Associated Press
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British "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman attends an event at the British Embassy in Beijing Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. The film unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and Heyman announced Sunday that they will make a fantasy movie “Warriors” based on a book series about warring cats. (AP Photo/Louise Watt)

BEIJING (AP) — The film unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and the British "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman announced Sunday that they will make a fantasy movie "Warriors" based on a book series about warring cats.

The live action film with computer-generated cats is based on the British books for young adults about clans of wild cats, with themes including adventure, forbidden love and good versus evil. The series has a fan following in countries including China, and the film is intended for worldwide audiences.

Heyman, an independent film producer behind "Paddington" and "Gravity," said he sought out Alibaba when he was in China almost two years ago on a trip to promote "Paddington," British creativity and British-Chinese cultural exchange.

"This is becoming the largest market in the world so you are looking to understand that market," he said at a news conference at the British Embassy in Beijing.

"It's hard to get a film made today, I've had some success but every time you start a film you start a new business, so I'm always looking for people over the world."

He said that unlike some movies jointly produced by China and the West where "you feel the marriage is forced ... something that is just done because you want Chinese money," 'Warriors' "is such a perfect Chinese-British story" because its values are universal."

Heyman said it was too early to say how much of the creative team will be Chinese and they still don't have a script for the film, which will likely be in 3-D. There's no guarantee the movie will be shown in China, he added.

Alibaba Pictures Group was formed in 2014. Its first film, "The Ferryman," comes out next month.

It has already invested in Hollywood films including "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" and "Star Trek Beyond," and in October announced it would partner with Stephen Spielberg's Amblin Partners to co-produce films for global audiences.

Alibaba Pictures secured the film rights to "Warriors" last month.