It’s not a joke. Disney has long been desperate to tap into China’s market, even going so far as to co-produce with China films like The Magic Gourd and The Forbidden Kingdom. Furthermore, Disney’s Chinese connections seem to be based in Shanghai, where a new themepark finally got the ok after years of Disney pushing for it. So perhaps it is not surprising that HSM, already popular in China, will be remade with funding from Shanghai-based megacorporations Hua Yi and SMG. The early reports said BOBO would be in this, and somehow, strangely, it changed to Zhang Junning who’s not even a actor under Hua Yi.
Hua Yi president,Wang Zhonglei was at the production start ceremony held on Nov. 22nd. He said that despite the lack of many successful musicals in China (poor Le Huo Nan Hai!), he expects this to have a big box office when it arrives in theaters next summer. Usually I have more faith in his statements, because Hua Yi’s well managed and their success rate is high, but the casting of Zhang Junning perplexes me, and brings me even more apprehension than just the baseline idea of “Chinese HSM remake”. He’s hot, and can sing and dance pretty decently, but less charismatic of actor than either Zac Efron or Jing Boran from BOBO. Maybe charisma wasn’t necessary for the character? It’s been a while since I watched it. Nevertheless, I still hope this does help kick-start the Chinese musical genre despite my all my reservations.
For those more interested in information about the film, Hua Yi, SMG , the director and crew, and the history of Disney’s involvement in Chinese entertainment, here’s a massive English-language article from Yahoo fiance with tons of details that, that I only found after I typed this up. Which sucks…but eh, my post has pictures.