AP Entertainment Writer
POSTED: 04:33 a.m. HST, Jun 30, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 05:06 a.m. HST, Jun 30, 2011
HONG KONG >> Stan Lee wants to see the likes of Spider-Man and the X-Men weaving between skyscrapers in Shanghai and battling enemies on the Great Wall.
The comic book legend has announced a joint venture with a Hong Kong investment company that aims to roll out a new superhero franchise targeted at Chinese and foreign audiences.
Lee's POW! Entertainment said in a statement issued on its website this week that the new company, Magic Storm Entertainment, will announce its first film project later this summer.
"I have been eagerly awaiting this great opportunity — a chance to combine the best of American superhero epics with the best of Chinese and Asian classical filmmaking for a motion picture that would be excitedly received worldwide," Lee said in the statement.
It did not say if the creator or co-creator of Marvel Comics characters such as Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four and Iron Man will come up with new characters for the new movie or write a new story for his flagship characters, many of which have already been adapted for the big screen. It also wasn't clear if the film will be animation or feature real actors.
Magic Storm Entertainment will be a partnership between Hong Kong investment company Ricco Capital Holdings and Panda Media Partners, a joint venture between POW! Entertainment and the media consulting company Fidelis Global Enterprises. Fidelis Managing Director Eric Mika, the former publisher of the trade publication The Hollywood Reporter, will serve as chief executive of Magic Storm, which will be based in Los Angeles.
More than 2 million of Lee's comic books have been published in 75 nations and in 25 languages, but they do not appear to have a big following in mainland China.
But recent movie adaptations of Lee's characters, like other American blockbusters, have done strong business in China, which is fast becoming one of Hollywood's key markets despite a quota that effectively limits the country to 20 major foreign productions a year. Lee's strategy is likely to capitalize on the popularity of those movies.
The three "Spider-Man" movies starring Tobey Maguire have made a combined $30 million in China and the two "Iron Man" movies featuring Robert Downey Jr. made $23.2 million, according to the box office tracking website Box Office Mojo.
Associated Press researcher Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.