Lionsgate has boarded martial-arts actioner "The Forbidden Kingdom," which pairs Jackie Chan and Jet Li for the first time on the big screen.
Indie studio is planning a September 2008 domestic release. Casey Silver produces.The Weinstein Co. is partnering with Lionsgate on the project, picking up distrib rights in Spain, France and Latin America. Lionsgate will distribute in the U.K.
Director Rob Minkoff ("The Lion King," "Stuart Little") is set to begin lensing the pic in China on May 2 from a script by John Fusco. Action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, who has worked on films including "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," is creating the fight sequences. Relativity Media is financing the pic, with company topper Ryan Kavanaugh taking an exec producer credit. Relativity will handle foreign sales.
"Casey Silver scored a real coup in bringing together two titans of martial arts, Jackie Chan and Jet Li," Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said.
Based on the Chinese legend of the monkey king, story revolves around an American teenager who discovers the king's legendary stick weapon in a pawn shop. Teen is transported back in time to ancient China, where he joins a crew of warriors fighting to free the imprisoned king.
Li is set to play two roles, that of the monkey king and the silent monk. Chan will pay the monk T'sa-Ho.
When promoting the U.S. bow of Li's most recent movie, "Fearless," Rogue Pictures touted it as his last martial-arts epic. "Forbidden" is being described as more of an action-adventure with fight sequences.