Zentropa readies romantic comedy for Danish-Chinese production
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Through Zentropa China, the Danish company will produce Chinese features for the Chinese market ‘working on local terms’
A romantic comedy currently in development will be Danish production company Zentropa Entertainment’s first effort to enter the Chinese market. After negotiations in Beijing, Zentropa China, a new subsidiary, expects to conclude a long-term production agreement with a Chinese company in September-October.
Zentropa China Managing Director Rikke Ennis (photo), who is also CEO of Zentropa and Nordisk Film’s joint international sales agency TrustNordisk pitched the idea for the film (her own): “A young Chinese girl, a real Ugly Betty, gets a scholarship and goes to Odense in Denmark to write her thesis about Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. She dives into his world of magic and comes up a new human being, self-confident, ready to return to China and conquer the world – and love.”
"The background is that the Chinese have an extensive knowledge of Andersen’s adventures," added Ennis, leading the management group of the new company with Sophie Frandsen, TrustNordisk head of new business, and Sara Shafika Otten, TrustNordisk head of legal affairs.
“We want to work in China on local terms - our productions will be Chinese. After all only 34 foreign titles reach the Chinese cinemas annually,” Ennis explained. “And we do not want to compete on budgets - last year’s most popular film in China, Lost in Thailand, a comedy by actor-turned-director Xu Zheng, which became the so far best-grossing local release taking more than €150 million, was produced for a mere €3.6 million.”
Returning from a visit to China with Nordisk Film chief Allan Mathson Hansen, where they met Chinese state film organisations and private producers, Ennis will now sign a Danish scriptwriter (and a Chinese collaborator) for the romantic comedy, which will be presented to the Chinese partner in Beijing, while preparing the next step into the market, which is expected to become No 1 in the cinema world within the next ten years.