China's Tianying Media Group has just snapped up the rights to U.S. media mogul Stan Lee's "The Last Resort," a sci-fi comedy about a woman who inherits a quirky hotel on an orbiting space station.
"It's a great women-starring project," energized talent manager and executive producer Shari Kelton told Xinhua on Monday. "I'm proud of women's accomplishments. And I'm thrilled to be doing this project with China."
The deal is part of a new win-win formula that has emerged in recent U.S.-China deals: Chinese production companies are hiring Hollywood screenwriters or buying American scripts to give the film a global appeal, then tweaking them with "Chinese characteristics" and producing them as Chinese movies or U.S.-China co-pros.
The screenplay of "The Last Resort" was penned by Stan Lee himself and co-writer Bob Underwood, who is best known as a series writer for television "Night Court" and "The Drew Carey Show."
"We are taking excellent screenwriting from the West and adding local flavors and marketing sense required for the Chinese audience," Zhou Zheng, president of production for Tianying Media, told Variety.
The rights were acquired from POW! Entertainment, a publicly-traded Hollywood film, TV and videogame company that Stan Lee co-founded in 2001 with Gill Champion and Arthur Lieberman.
In 2017, the media and entertainment company known as POW! Entertainment Inc. was acquired by Hong Kong-based Camsing International Holdings, one of China's leading brand licensing, product promotion and sports and entertainment marketing companies.
Under the new leadership, POW!'s creations will be distributed, developed and licensed throughout the world across all platforms to expand its ever growing fan base. POW! also owns the Stan Lee name, likeness and trademarks along with a library of Stan Lee intellectual properties.
The deal itself was a complex one, involving intricate rights issues, diverse international points of law, differing cultural business perspectives and strong personalities.
A prime mover on the deal team was Randy Mendelsohn, who deftly shepherded the complex deal over the finish line. He is a longtime entertainment attorney and executive producer in the Hollywood film industry.
"Many of my challenges I face as an attorney on international deals like this are crafting solutions to the obstacles, differing deal-styles, and cross-cultural concerns that inevitably crop up," Mendelsohn told Xinhua in the exclusive interview on Monday.
"Luckily," he added, "there were good people on both sides of this project who really wanted to work together to create something special. That makes it all worthwhile. There are real opportunities in China at the moment, and I look forward to helping them happen."