Following the box office success of last year’s Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons <西遊·降魔篇>, Stephen Chow (周星馳) plans to begin production on a fantasy romance titled Mermaid <美人魚>. The film may star mainland Chinese actor Xu Zheng (徐崢), who directed, co-wrote, and starred in the 2012 smash-hit comedy Lost in Thailand <人再囧途之泰囧>.
Mermaid, which is reportedly an adaptation of the story of the Little Mermaid, is expected to commence filming at Hengdian World Studios in June. Some movie fans worried that this would conflict with Xu Zheng’s schedule, since he is currently working on the screenplay of Lost in Hong Kong <港囧>.
According to Ms. Liu, Xu Zheng’s manager, the Lost in Thailand actor has yet to reach a final decision about Mermaid, though he indeed met up with Stephen before the Lunar New Year to discuss the project.
“Xu Zheng’s current focus is on the screenplay of Lost in Hong Kong,” said Ms. Liu. “He has very high demands for it, and will not start filming if he is not satisfied with the screenplay. As a result, there is no set schedule.”
Prior to Xu Zheng, Stephen had considered giving the male lead to either mainland Chinese actor Wen Zhang (文章) or Taiwanese singer/actor Show Luo (羅志祥), both of whom had starred in Journey to the West. However, Wen Zhang was making plans to film his own project, whereas Show lacked the ability to draw in the mainland Chinese market.
Thus, Stephen turned his focus to Xu Zheng, whose Lost in Thailand raked in 1.26 billion RMB at the box office. With Journey to the West’s box office at 1.24 billion RMB, fans are wondering if a Stephen-Xu Zheng combination will lead to a new box office record, especially since the production costs for Mermaid are rumored to be as high as 150 million RMB.
Still Searching for Female Lead
When Stephen began preparing for Mermaid two years ago, he originally planned to cast beauty queen Zhang Zilin (張梓琳) as the female lead. However, filming was delayed due to investment problems, and Zhang Zilin became unavailable for the part after her marriage last year.
Stephen is reportedly still on the lookout for a female lead and is focusing his search on actresses between the ages of 16 and 25.