Robert Zemeckis is returning to the sci-fi realm for the first time since exec. producing Shawn Levy’s 2011 film Real Steel. The Oscar-winning filmmaker will team with Bob Simond’s STX Entertainment and Chinese company Alibab Pictures to co-produce STEEL SOLDIERS, an original science fiction action movie.
The film is set in a futuristic world where humans and robots battle side-by-side, but there’s no word on whether Zemeckis might direct the project himself. He will produce the project via his ImageMovers production company along with partners Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine.
The project is based around an original screenplay by Ken Kaufman (Space Cowboys), following a Special Forces officer forced to train a new team of imperfect android soldiers and lead them on a rescue mission for the robots’ creator.
STXfilms will handle both the U.S. and international distribution under this new partnership with Alibaba handling the release in China. It hasn’t been revealed whether this will be an official U.S.-China co-production which would require more input from the Chinese side of things, but the plan is to expand the project into other platforms beyond the theatrical film planned.
David Styne is also producing while STXfilms SVP of Production Sheroum Kim will oversee the project and Alibaba’s senior exec. of international productions Shujin Lan- Shuster will also supervise.
In the past few yeares, STX has been partnering with Chinese production companies more and more with its first China co-production, Jackie Chan’s The Foreigner, being released in October, grossing $81.2 million in China and less than half that amount in North America.
Earlier this week, Alibaba’s parent company invested $1.24 billion in China’s Wanda Film, owned by competitor Wang Jianlin, and Alibaba will release the fantasy action film Legend of the Ancient Sword from director Renny Harlin later this year, followed by the fantasy tentpole Asura.
Zemeckis, represented by WME and Gang Tyre, is currently finishing up The Women of Marwen, a narrative based on Jeff Malmberg’s 2010 doc Marwencol, starring Steve Carell, Diane Kruger, Eiza Gonzalez and Leslie Mann.
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor