British Harry Potter producer David Heyman gives fans autographs at the British embassy in Beijing, where he and Alibaba Pictures announced they would make a fantasy movie, Warriors. Photo: AP

Alibaba, Harry Potter producer to make Warriors movie about warring cats

It’s ‘such a perfect Chinese-British story’, with its universal themes of adventure, forbidden love and good versus evil, says David Heyman of film based on young-adult fiction series

The film unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and the British Harry Potter producer David Heyman have announced that they will make a fantasy movie, Warriors, based on a book series about warring cats.

The live-action film with computer-generated cats is based on the British books for young adults about clans of wild cats, with themes including adventure, forbidden love and good versus evil. The series has a fan following in countries including China, and the film is intended for worldwide audiences.

David Heyman also produced Gravity and Paddington. Photo: AP

Heyman, an independent film producer behind Paddington and Gravity , said he sought out Alibaba when he was in China almost two years ago on a trip to promote Paddington, British creativity and British-Chinese cultural exchange.

“This is becoming the largest market in the world, so you are looking to understand that market,” he said at a news conference at the British embassy in Beijing.

“It’s hard to get a film made today, I’ve had some success but every time you start a film you start a new business, so I’m always looking for people over the world.”

A promotional image for the Warriors project.

He said that unlike some movies jointly produced by China and the West where “you feel the marriage is forced ... something that is just done because you want Chinese money”, Warriors “is such a perfect Chinese-British story” because its values are universal“.

Heyman said it was too early to say how much of the creative team would be Chinese and they still didn’t have a script for the film, which would probably be in 3D. There was no guarantee the movie will be shown in China, he added.

Alibaba Pictures Group was formed in 2014. Its first film, The Ferryman, comes out next month.

It has already invested in Hollywood films including Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Star Trek Beyond , and in October announced it would partner with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners to co-produce films for global audiences.

Alibaba Pictures secured the film rights to Warriors last month.