HK comic makes foray into Hollywood, with US$80m adaptation on the cards

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 August, 2009, 12:00am

A Hong Kong comic is making a break into Hollywood for the first time, with a California-based movie studio planning an adaptation into a fantasy that would be on the scale of The Lord of the Rings.

DevaShard, a locally published graphic novel series that draws inspiration from sanskrit epics from ancient India such as The Mahabharata, has been optioned by CastleBright Studios, a subsidiary of NBC Universal. Vanquish Motion Pictures, which is under CastleBright Studios, is raising funds to develop the comic into an US$80 million blockbuster.

Directors who have expressed interest in the project include John Woo and Alfonso Cuaron, who directed Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban, but a decision has yet to be confirmed.

Other names attached to the project's development include Kevin Grevioux, the co-creator and co-writer of the action-packed vampire series Underworld, who has started overseeing the script's development, and David Venghaus, the assistant director on Tropic Thunder and two of the Pirates of the Caribbean instalments, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End.

The publisher of DevaShard, Fluid Comics, exhibited at the Comic-Con in San Diego last year and the graphic novel was picked up by the Hollywood studio.

'We picked up the property because the groundwork done was exceptional and we felt that the storyline based on Asian mythology is going to be the next big thing,' the o-founder of CastleBright Studios, Jay Douglas, said.

Fluid's business development director, Spencer Douglass, said that although the creative team - comprising international members, including scriptwriter Benjamin Hall from Britain and local artist Johnny Tam - hoped to turn the title into a movie, having DevaShard being picked up by a Hollywood studio was never expected.

Up to now, two issues of DevaShard have been published, with a print-run of 50,000 copies sold in Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and the West.

Fluid Comics is negotiating a deal for a console game for DevaShard but details are yet to be finalised.

Hong Kong Comics and Animation Federation secretary Alan Wan Siu-lun said DevaShard's experience was rare for a local comic and it showed Hong Kong had global creative talent.

He said Hollywood studios had approached local titles for movie adaptations, such as Weapons of the Gods and Storm Rider, but none had borne fruit.

Mr Wan hoped that the news would send a wake-up call to the government on the importance of promoting local artists overseas and in developing the city's creative industries.