China's terracotta warriors to star in superhero film

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 11:15pm

China’s terracotta warriors will get the superhero treatment on the big screen in an upcoming film co-produced by a former Marvel executive and a Shanghai film company, local media said on Tuesday.

The movie - whose title has been reported variably as Super Terracotta Warriors and Rise of the Terracotta Warriors - will star animated versions of the world-famous stone sculptures, which were built more than 2,000 years ago in what is modern-day Shaanxi as part of a massive tomb for China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang.

The Shanghai Film Group has teamed up with the producer behind multimillion-dollar movie franchises such as Spider-Man and Iron Man, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

US reports said the terracotta warriors feature is being co-produced by Avi Arad, a former CEO of Marvel Entertainment who founded the comics giant's film arm in 1993. The Hollywood Reporter said the movie will see the terracotta army transplanted in today's world "at a time when aliens are invading and the world needs them".

Since last December, the Shanghai studio has been approached by foreign producers, including the chairman of Paramount Pictures, Pinewood Studios and the former executive of Marvel to collaborate on projects such as this one. Several of these projects have entered the “substantive stage”, the paper quoted Shanghai Film Group CEO Ren Zhonglun as saying.

Discovered in 1974, the Terracotta Army – comprising some 8,000 unique and life-sized infantry soldiers, along with farmers and horse-drawn chariots – remains one of the mainland’s biggest tourist draws. Historians say the entire funeral entourage, made out of clay, took more than 700 artisans and 36 years to make.

Mainland netizens, however, seemed reluctant to buy into hype, with many making fun of the concept and others saying they would only buy tickets to see how “laughable” the film might be.

“The superpower of terracotta warriors: immediate petrification,” News Weekly wrote in its official microblog, which was reposted more than 1,000 times in just two hours.

Chinese film groups are no strangers to Hollywood. Last September, Dalian Wanda Group brought Hollywood actors Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Leonardo DiCaprio to the coastal city of Qingdao for the launch of its Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, the world’s largest film and television industry project.

Dalian launched the project shortly after acquiring American cinema chain AMC Entertainment.