Filmmaker incubator Stars Collective, launched in 2020 by the China-backed but Beverly Hills-based producer Peter Luo, unveiled two new Asia-led movie projects Wednesday at the American Film Market in Santa Monica. They include the first installment of a still-untitled new horror franchise starring popular Thai actress Kitty Chicha (Girl from Nowhere, The Serpent) and The Evil Sea, a crime thriller based on a real-life maritime incident, to be written and directed by debut feature filmmaker Frank Shang.
Stars Collective describes the new horror franchise as being based on female ghost stories inspired by Asian folklore. In the yet-to-be-titled first film, a bullied high school orphan (Chicha) must confront a twisted tale of love and revenge when she stumbles upon a mysterious katana haunted by a vengeful geisha spirit. Amid unexplained deaths among her bullies, she unravels the haunting’s truth.
The Evil Sea centers on an incident from 2011 involving the Chinese fishing vessel ‘M3792,’ in which a routine fishing expedition turned into a terrifying maritime ordeal. In the film, a rebellion stemming from unfair work contracts escalates into a deadly conflict, with parties turning on each other in a fight for survival.
Executive produced by Luo, the film stars Haoran Zhang, Chenyi Guo, Menghe Wuliji, and Fenggang Liu. Producers are Kevin Feng, John Wu, Wang Yi, Dawei Ma, Jerry Shang and Yong Pang.
“Partnering with talented creatives and providing new opportunities for them to showcase their work to audiences globally is a singular mission for Stars Collective,” says Luo in a statement. “We’re proud and excited to make Kitty Chicha the face of a new franchise that we’re eager to build. Working with Frank Shang on The Evil Sea reflects our desire to build a diverse slate of commercial films.”
The projects come on the heels of Stars Collective partnering with Hana Investment (China), the Chinese subsidiary of Hana Financial Group, to establish a $300 million fund to invest in a number of verticals including comics, films, games, collectibles, consumer goods, artificial intelligence and metaverse technology.