By Simon Dang | The Playlist March 28, 2011 at 1:33AM
We've written about Antoine Fuqua a fair amount in recent times, only for it to amount to very little in the way of a follow-up to 2007's "Shooter." Among other things, the "Training Day" director has been plotting a biopic of rapper Tupac (which recently began an open casting call), an adaptation of comic book "Afterburn" starring Gerard Butler, a pilot at FOX starring Ethan Hawke from a script by David Guggenheim and superteam Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, and he previously flirted with a reunion with Bruce Willis on prison-escape drama "The Tomb," as well as having the buzzed-about actioner "Prisoners" with Hugh Jackman and a spy-thriller "Consent To Kill" potentially on his slate at one point.
With "Tupac" gearing up to shoot this spring/summer, Fuqua has now attached himself to a project which may very well be his most intriguing and leftfield to date: a 200 million yuan (roughly US$30m - thanks to commenter Angie) Chinese-language historical epic about a Tang Dynasty emperor and one of the country's four most legendary beauties.
The film will follow the "tragic love story between imperial consort Yang Guifei, one of the four famed beauties of ancient China, and 8th century Emperor Xuanzong, the longest reigning monarch of the Tang Dynasty, who ascended to the throne at the summit of the dynasty's power and influence. Their love affair has been widely celebrated by classical poets and is the subject of paintings, Chinese operas, books and television shows in the subsequent millennium."
It's without question a massive risk by Fuqua but, considering China's huge market and strict box office laws (which Rian Johnson is already tapping into with "Looper"), it may provide the director with his greatest opportunity to reach an audience far beyond his previous films and skyrocket his financial worth. “It’s a big subject, well known in Chinese circles around the world,” chairman Zhao An, of production shingle Xi’an Qujiang Film & TV Investment Group, announced. “With director Antoine Fuqua at the helm, we’re hoping to bring this story onto the international stage.”
The project has been in development over the last two years with the script currently being finalised and casting just underway. Production itself is set to begin later this year for a 2012 release which puts Fuqua's Tupac biopic in the precarious situation of needing to begin lensing this summer as planned -- which could be a problem considering it has already missed one tentative production start date. [THR]