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Cannes: Huayi Brothers Chinese War Epic 'The Eight Hundred' Sells Wide

The Eight Hundred / All Lights Film MagazineChina's hotly anticipated World War II epic The Eight Hundred has sold to multiple territories around the world, including North America.

Directed by Guan Hu and produced by veteran Chinese studio Huayi Brothers Media, The Eight Hundred is being pitched to buyers at the Cannes Film Market as China's first big-budget, grippingly realistic war epic.

The producers are hoping the film will do for the war movie in China what local blockbuster The Wandering Earth ($780 million) did for the sci-fi genre earlier this year — set a new standard for production quality while making a bundle at the box office.

Huayi Brothers launched sales on the film at Berlin's European Film Market in February. So far, it has sold theatrical rights to the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CMC Pictures, which also distributed The Wandering Earth in the U.S.); South Korea (First Run), Germany (Koch), the U.K. (Trinity), Singapore and Brunei (Shaw); Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos (GSC); and worldwide in-flight (Emphasis).

The film is set to open in China on July 5, in the thick of summer blockbuster season. Most of the international territories sold so far are lined up for day-and-date theatrical releases with China, or not far behind. Huayi Brothers is expecting to close out remaining territories during the Cannes film market.

The Eight Hundred is said to have a production budget in excess of $80 million — which sits at the very upper end in China, where the industry remains nonunionized and production costs run much lower than in Hollywood.

Director Guan's most recent release was the gritty crime drama Mr. Six (2005), which became a sleeper hit for Huayi Brothers, earning $137 million in China. The film closed the 72nd Venice International Film Festival in an out-of-competition screening.