By Patrick Frater
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Italy's "Cinema Paradiso" director Giuseppe Tornatore has struck a deal to make a movie with China's Alibaba Pictures Group, the film making arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba.
The deal was symbolically signed by Tornatore and Zhang Qiang of APG at the end of a forum on co-productions Sunday on the first full day of the Beijing International Film Festival. Among the witnesses to the signing was Miao Xiaotian, VP of China Film Co-production Corporation.
"The deal is an agreement in principal (without a specific project that is yet agreed)," Tornatore told Variety. He said that it will likely happen within the next two to three years and be a majority Chinese-financed picture.
It was unclear whether the film will use the bilateral co-production treaty between Italy and China that was signed in 2014. The first film that used the treaty was Cristiano Bortone's "Coffee."
Tornatore, who has other credits including "Malena," "A Pure Formality" and "The Legend of 1900," joins an expanding list of well-known talents who have signed first look or outline deals with APG. Others include Wong Kar-wai and Peter Chan.
Earlier this month APG announced that it had teamed with Skydance to produce a film about the Flying Tigers, the WWII squadron in which U.S. and Chinese airmen flew on the same side, with Randall Wallace ("Braveheart") supplying the screenplay.
Alibaba Pictures began investing in Hollywood film with its stake in the 2015 Skydance film "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation" in partnership with Paramount Pictures.