Ruyi Films and Syon Media have optioned Cang Yue's best-selling contemporary fantasy seriesThe Mirror, and Ke Liming (So Young, Tiny Times) and Andrew Mason (The Water Diviner) will produce.
John Collee (The Alchemyst, Master and Commander) will adapt the script of the first feature, The Mirror: Twin Cities, and Danny Bergeron (Jupiter Ascending, X-Men: Days of the Future Past) will be the VFX director.
The Mirror is a huge success in China, both online and as a book, selling over seven million copies. There are six books so far and it takes place in Eden, a world of powerful sorcery, romance, quests and the supernatural.
"We started working on this two years ago. China is all about Intellectual Property. It's a new world with Asians, and Russians and Westerners, with conflicts and fighting, and love stories. It was all there; they bring a new concept to Hollywood, it's young and fresh," said Ke, CEO of Ruyi Media Group, at an event to launch the movie in Cannes.
Ke felt an international team was the best way to address the text, and he wants to have development finished by the end of the year and be ready to announce a director by AFM.
The cast will be mostly Western and the budget will probably be about $50 million initially, Ke said.
This franchise will be developed for the international market as multiple English feature films, and the books will be published in English, starting next week's New York Book Expo America.
"The books of The Mirror series take us into a vast intriguing and exciting world, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to help bring that unique world to life on the screen. And it's a fantasy world that comes from a female perspective," said Mason. "It's quite broad in its references and fantasy is a whole lot of fun. As a producer you just like to bring a new world about."
Collee, who collaborated with Mason on The Water Diviner and just completed The Alchemyst for Paramount, believes the series has the potential to become a massive international franchise.
"Fantasy allows you to get quite deeply into the culture of a place in a weird way. For me this is a window on the Chinese equivalent of The Lord of the Rings. She writes so fluently and it's so detailed," he said.
Bergeron said that they were planning to do the post in Montreal, because of the talent and the incentives, and the fact you can make everything in one town, including concept artists for any gaming spinoffs.
"The Chinese love American movies. Their competition is America, so they ask why don't they do American movies? Let's make that movie, the fantasy movie. The Lord of the Rings is not really New Zealand and this is not really China, it's Fantasyland. The Chinese said the more international the better, as I will make more money in my home market," said Bergeron.
The production would also make use of the D'Hive facility currently being built in Songjiang district in Shanghai.