Italy’s Giuseppe Tornatore to Shoot Movie for China’s Alibaba Pictures

April 17, 2016, 3:21 PM UTC
A newly installed cinema seating at Beij
BEIJING, CHINA: A newly installed cinema seating at Beijing's Daguanlou movie theater, which has been open for business for all of the 100 years Chinese cinema has been in existence, in Beijing 19 December 2005, while the cinema's founder was also the nation's first filmmaker. The centenary of Chinese cinema has been officially set for December, with a volley of commemorative events including seminars, news reports and TV broadcasts, but amid the festivities, some scholars warn that Chinese cinema is at a crossroads and finds itself squeezed in between the twin dangers of growing foreign competition and increasing commercialization. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph courtesy of STR — AFP via Getty Images

Italy’s Cinema Paradiso director Giuseppe Tornatore has struck a deal to make a movie with China’s Alibaba Pictures Group, the film making arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The deal was symbolically signed by Tornatore and Zhang Qiang of APG at the end of a forum on co-productions Sunday on the first full day of the Beijing International Film Festival. Among the witnesses to the signing was Miao Xiaotian, VP of China Film Co-production Corporation.

“The deal is an agreement in principal (without a specific project that is yet agreed),” Tornatore told Variety. He said that it will likely happen within the next two to three years and be a majority Chinese-financed picture.

It was unclear whether the film will use the bilateral co-production treaty between Italy and China that was signed in 2014. The first film that used the treaty was Cristiano Bortone’s Coffee.

Tornatore, who has other credits including Malena, A Pure Formality, and The Legend of 1900, joins an expanding list of well-known talents who have signed first look or outline deals with APG. Others include Wong Kar-wai and Peter Chan.

Earlier this month APG announced that it had teamed with Skydance to produce a film about the Flying Tigers, the WWII squadron in which U.S. and Chinese airmen flew on the same side, with Randall Wallace (Braveheart) supplying the screenplay.

Alibaba Pictures (BABA) began investing in Hollywood film with its stake in the 2015 Skydance film Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation in partnership with Paramount Pictures (VIA).