China’s Alibaba Signs ‘Harry Potter’ Producer David Heyman For ‘Warriors’ Film

Patrick Frater
Variety

BEIJING — “Harry Potter” producer, David Heyman is to produce “Warriors” for China’s Alibaba Pictures Group. The live action film is based on a series of hit children’s/young adult novels about warring cats.

Heyman’s involvement in the project was announced Sunday at an event held at the British Embassy in Beijing, China.

Published by Harper Collins from 2003 onwards, “Warriors” features several clans of forest-dwelling cats. The stories involve themes of adventure, forbidden love, nature versus nurture, and faith. They were written by three authors — Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland — and an editor (Victoria Holmes) collectively working under the pseudonym Erin Hunter.

“Alibaba represents quality and the best values. When I first came to China a few years ago, I sought them out,” said Heyman. “What we discovered is that Alibaba is interested in telling stories that are universally relatable.”

“‘Warriors’ is such a perfect Chinese-British project. The values (in the books) are British. But they are also Chinese… There’s more that unites us than divides us.”

There are currently six series of “Warrior” novels, which will each have six books when completed. There have already been nine spin-off books (known as super editions) as well as an English-language manga series distributed by the now defunct Tokyopop. Alibaba Pictures revealed that it had bought movie adaptation rights last month.

Since the end of the eight-film “Harry Potter” franchise Heyman has been a producer on Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity,” children’s literary adaptation “Paddington” and Derek Cianfrance’s romance “The Light Between Oceans.” He is currently riding high with the blockbuster theatrical openings of “Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Recent predictions point to “Fantastic Beasts” finishing this weekend with a global gross of over $200 million. It opens in China next week (Nov. 25.)

Alibaba Pictures is the stock market-listed film arm of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba. The company inherited a small number of deals when Alibaba bought APG’s predecessor company ChinaVision. Since then, however, it has expanded rapidly.

It was injected with a cluster of film technology assets transferred from Alibaba itself, has signed up other talent, including Hong Kong’s Stephen Chow, and has invested directly in a handful of Hollywood movies including “Star Trek: Beyond” and “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.”

The scale of APG’s  movie ambitions were underlined in October when the company sealed a deal with Steven Spielberg, through an investment in his Amblin Partners company.

 

 

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