Drug scandal hits 'Monster Hunt' most

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 17, 2015
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Poster of "Monster Hunt" [Photo/Weibo]

The producer of the fantasy blockbuster "Monster Hunt" said the Taiwan actor Kai Ko's drug scandal seriously affected the movie’s production but he tried everything to save it.

Bill Kong, a veteran film producer most famous for co-producing "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and CEO of EDKO Film Co.,Ltd, told Mtime.com that the budget for "Monster Hunt" was originally 280 million yuan (US$45.08 million), but when Kai Ko was arrested along with Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Chan for taking drugs in August 2014, he had to make a tough choice.

The film was scheduled for the end of 2014 (New Year Season), but the drug scandal led the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television to issue a ban forbidding any actors, industry professionals and entertainers with convictions for drugs, prostitution or other misdeeds to appear on screen again.

All the production and promotion plans were halted. As a Hong Kong producer, he didn't know much about mainland film censorship and supervision, so he asked for more information about the life or death of the project. He felt extremely pressured with everyone looking at him and waiting for the decision.

Director Raman Hui, best known for directing "Shrek the Third," gave up opportunities in DreamWorks Animation, wanting to make something greater in the Chinese movie industry. Now everything including dreams seemed to be in stake after six years' hard work on the project.

Bill Kong finally heard that it was very unlikely to make the film's release because of Kai Ko playing the lead role. "His roles cannot be deleted," Kong said, "I knew some of his scenes in 'Tiny Time' and Jaycee Chan's scenes in 'Monk Comes Down the Mountain' can be deleted, thus those two films will not be affected much, but we can't. The deletion will affect the whole movie."

His decision was to put in another 70 million yuan (US$11.27 million) to re-shoot the film, replacing Kai Ko with another young actor Jing Boran. Then he decided with the director Raman Hui that the film will be released in China in summer season of 2015.

"I didn’t know what was to happen if I insisted to present the Kai Ko version to censors, but I only wanted to solve problem and present audiences with an excellent film," Kong said, "But I don't regret Ko's participation. In my opinion, he delivered one of the best performances ever in motion picture."

Kong said he privately visited Ko after the scandal and encouraged him to do more good for society in the future. He also hoped that some day in the future, the Ko version of the film can be released.

With a budget now of 350 million (US$56.38 million), Kong might feel greater pressure to get the investment money back from "Monster Hunt."

"But I want to look further, I want to have a long term revenue from 'Monster Hunt' after I make it a profitable film franchise, like Chinese 'Harry Potter,' in the future."

"Monster Hunt" tells a story of a young man who conceived a little monster king by mistake. He went through all kinds of difficulties to protect the little monster from evil hands. It has a star-studded cast of Jing Boran, Bai Baihe, Yao Chen, Tang Wei, Jiang Wu, Eric Tsang, and Sandra Ng.

It debuted on Thursday raking in 173 million yuan (US$27.7 million) on its opening day, breaking the opening day and single day ticket sales records for a Chinese made movie previously held by Cheang Pou-soi's "The Monkey King" (US$20.62 million). For Kong, it could be a big relief for him to see the film soar from here with all his efforts being compensated soon.

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