Fri, Jul 21, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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Legal rumblings surround Ang Lee's martial arts epic.

The son of the Chinese author of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍) is waging a legal battle in a Canadian court with Hollywood studios over the film rights to his father's books.

The film version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by director Ang Lee (李安) won four Oscars and now Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. and The Weinstein Company say they hold the film rights to other books in the same series penned by Wang Dulu (王度盧).

While Hollywood producers are anxious to make a prequel to the martial arts blockbuster Crouching Tiger, a Saskatchewan judge must first determine who owns the rights to the remaining books in the series.

Columbia contends in a statement of claim it struck a deal by telephone and e-mail in 2005 with the author's son, Hong Wang, for rights to the remaining books, but Wang denies there was a final agreement.

Rather, Wang said he signed an agreement with The Weinstein Company for the book rights in December 2005.

Columbia is suing both Wang and The Weinstein Company for those rights. In a counter suit, The Weinstein Company is seeking sole ownership of the book rights.

Hollywood studio Warner Bros. is taking on the pirates in China's film market, using lightning-fast home video release and low prices to beat DVD counterfeiters at their own game.

Warner's China film-making joint venture released its first picture, a low-budget film called Crazy Stone, in cinemas on June 30, then followed with a DVD version selling for as little as 10 renminbi (US$1.25) just 12 days later.

The turnaround was the shortest ever for a Warner film, in an industry where three months is more typical, said Tony Vaughan, managing director for CAV Warner Home Entertainment Co, another Warner joint venture that handled the film's home video release.

“We came out here with the aim of competing with the pirates on pricing and timing,” said Vaughan. “The fact that we've been able to go this early means we've been able to beat the pirates.”

American movie star Richard Gere is to star in a movie to be filmed in Croatia and Bosnia, playing a journalist hunting for war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic, it was reported this week.

The movie, called Spring Break in Bosnia, will portray a journalist (Gere) who comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina to look for Karadzic, but is repeatedly taken for a CIA agent, media in Zagreb and Belgrade reported.

The filming is due to start in the fall, while the director and screenwriter will be Richard Shepard (Matador) and the producer Mark Johnson, who produced the Chronicles of Narnia.

M. Night Shyamalan left Disney when the studio refused to make his new movie Lady in the Water, based on his own fairytale. Now the director of The Sixth Sense is risking his reputation on the movie, and some critics are scratching their heads and wondering why.

Lady in the Water, to be released on Friday by Warner Bros, is based on a bedtime story Shyamalan made up for his two young daughters. But his fairy tale, also published as a children's book, has already cost him dearly.

When the 35-year-old director presented his vision to Disney, which produced his four previous films, the studio said the story was too confusing.

Disney executives also questioned Shyamalan's decision to act in a pivotal supporting role rather than take his usual Hitchcockian

cameo. But Shyamalan refused to compromise his vision, instead parting with a studio which grossed more than US$1.5 billion on his last four films.

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