EXCLUSIVE: Released in August, Louis Koo ’s sci-fi action thriller Warriors Associated with Future has become not just the highest-grossing local film in Hong Kong ever, but the highest-grossing Asian film actually released in the territory, with a gross of HK$81. 7M (US$10. 5M). The movie also raked in $100m in China over the summer and is currently number four in Netflix ’s global ranking of non-English language films after launching worldwide on December 2.
It’s an encouraging result for Hong Kong’s film industry, which suffered through some of the particular most frequent and lengthy cinema shutdowns during the pandemic – the last one only ending this April. It’s also an extraordinary achievement for a Hong Kong sci-fi movie, as the territory has never before attempted to produce the film associated with this genre and at this scale.
Directed by visual effects specialist Ng Yuen-fai ( Bodyguards And Assassins ), the particular $56m film was six years within the making through Koo’s One Cool Group , a full service production, distribution and VFX outfit, which he launched inside Hk plus Bangkok in 2013. Koo also heads the cast of the film along with Sean Lau Ching-wan and Carina Lau. One of Hong Kong’s biggest stars with more than 100 credits to his name, Koo furthermore acts in other company’s movies, with recent credits including G Storm , Anita and upcoming action drama Twilight Of The Warriors: Walled In .
Speaking to Deadline just after the launch of Warriors Of Future on Netflix, Koo explains that 1 Cool started out by providing CGI and DI [digital intermediate] services, later branching out into movie production, equipment services, artist management plus regional distribution. Ng’s award-winning VFX house Fatface Production is part of the group.
“We’ve made a lot of films, but the idea was to create an one-stop shop, covering the entire chain of manufacturing and submission, so we’d have a steady source of income in between the film productions, ” Koo explains.
For several years, Koo didn’t go public about being the particular founder of the group, although it was an open secret in the Hong Kong film business, because he didn’t want his star status to deflect from its work. In addition to big-budget Hong Kong-China co-productions, which also include forthcoming action episode Back To The Past and crime thriller Beyond The particular Sin , the company also produces a slew of smaller-budget films from first-time Hong Kong directors and other emerging talents.
“There’s a real need to find new writing and directing talent in Hong Kong, because our industry has had a very successful past, but hasn’t been catering to the tastes associated with the younger local audience, ” Koo explains. “They’re not as interested in the particular action plus crime thrillers that we’re known for internationally, so we wanted to start developing movies that more closely reflect their lifestyle and experiences. ”
Recent examples of these films include Luk Yee Sum’s The Secret Diary Of A Mom To Be , regarding a young career woman who is less than delighted when she falls pregnant; Emily Chan’s Macau-set theatre Madalena , about the relationship between the taxi driver and a bar hostess; and Jimmy Wan’s Zero To Hero , the true story of Hong Kong Paralympic Games athlete So Wa Wai, which was Hong Kong’s submission to the Oscars Best International feature category last year. Made upon modest budgets, these movies have struck a chord at the local box office plus received regional festival play.
Koo says that next steps with regard to the company are to expand into Hollywood and pan-Asian creation. One Great has already invested in two Sony animated movies – Vivo plus The Mitchells vs The Machines , the latter picking up an Oscar nomination for best animated function this past year. Koo took a good executive producer credit on the 2 films, and says he’s looking regarding further investment opportunities, but his overarching aim will be to work on projects that contribute towards enhancing the particular Hong Kong film industry’s skills base and expertise in new technologies.
Players Of Future , about humanity’s fight against a lethal plant that crashes to earth in the meteor, involved more than 1, 900 CGI shots, which includes fighting robots, human-sized insect-like creatures plus a high-octane car chase created by compositing two separate Hong Kong highways together. It pushed the Hong Kong film market to its limits, yet the quality of the particular film’s VFX work offers been praised by critics. “It was all challenging, but the robots were the most difficult because they had to battle and interact with each some other, so took a long time in order to get right, ” Koo says.
He adds that while One Cool is already active in CGI and 3D animation – the particular company is currently working upon an cartoon prequel to Warriors Associated with Future – he’s also thinking about virtual production plus artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. “While we don’t have any virtual production stages [a.k.a. volumes] in the region yet, the technology could open up exciting new possibilities for sci-fi movies, ” says Koo, a self-confessed sci-fi fan and collector of robot memorabilia. “We want in order to explore, not just the sci-fi style, but furthermore the technologies. If it doesn’t make sense budget-wise to have volumes here, all of us would fly to the particular US or Australia to shoot. ”
Closer to home, and acknowledging the limitations of the relatively small Hong Kong market, Koo aims to start producing local-language films and series across Asia – with an initial focus on Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea. One Cool already provides offices inside mainland The far east, Thailand plus Korea and is working with local producers in several territories.
It is a wise move because the Asian countries Pacific region is generating more content in a lot more languages than ever before, with a shift towards episodic content and streaming services, similar to everywhere else within the world. One Cool has an international sales arm for its Chinese-language content, but rather compared to wait to see if plus when cinemas around the particular world would start in order to recover, opted to sell the worldwide rights of A warrior Of Potential to Netflix within the early days from the pandemic.
Netflix recently announced the film as heading a new slate of Chinese-language content material, which also includes a number of drama collection produced in Taiwan. Ironically, however, Warriors Of Future is one associated with several Hk films from a range of companies that will have gone gangbusters at the local box office on the summer, furthermore including Table For Six , Mama’s Affair , Chilli Laugh Story and most recently courtroom drama The particular Sparring Partner . Does this mean that Hong Kong’s film industry is currently in recovery?
Koo observes that every country’s film sector goes through peaks and troughs, even outside of black swan events like the particular pandemic: “It’s just that Hong Kong’s movie industry reached its lowest point plus is now starting to bounce back again. That’s why this is the perfect time to try new things and experiment. We can’t simply keep repeating the same old formulas. ”