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Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell Thriller Gets Chinese Backing (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/21/2017 Nick Vivarelli
© Provided by Variety

In another instance of Chinese capital flowing into Hollywood, the newly established Culture China — Image Nation Content Fund will co-finance and executive produce Sony Pictures Entertainment’s untitled thriller starring Denzel Washington and Colin Farrell.

Formerly titled “Inner City,” the film is the first project selected for investment by the $300-million fund set up in November by China’s government-backed Intercontinental Communication Center and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The fund marks the first strategic partnership in movies and TV between China and the United Arab Emirates, and is a conduit for Chinese investment in Hollywood.

Though financial details were not disclosed, the fund is understood to have acquired a substantial portion of the Dan Gilroy-directed legal drama. As previously announced, Cross Creek is co-financing the movie under the agreement it has with Sony, along with Charles King’s Macro and Lone Star Capital.

The film is currently shooting in Los Angeles. Washington plays a hard-nosed liberal lawyer named Roman J. Israel who takes on a case that has life-altering repercussions. Jennifer Fox is producing with Escape Artists’ Todd Black and Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver. Gilroy previously directed hit thriller “Nightcrawler,” with Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Intercontinental Communication Center, established in China in 1995, is the first Sino-foreign financial institution. It has ties with over 70 media companies in more than 30 countries, including NBC and National Geographic in the U.S., ITV in the U.K. and Arte in France.

Image Nation Abu Dhabi is run by U.S. exec Michael Garin, who has implemented a strategy of calculated-risk investments in Hollywood to help finance commercially viable local projects and build a local industry. Image Nation has long-term relationships in Hollywood with Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park and Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald’s Parkes/MacDonald shingle. Ben Ross, Image Nation’s head of narrative, film and television, is currently in Cannes.

The joint Culture China — Image Nation fund recently hired L.A.-based producer Derek Dauchy, former president of Davis Entertainment, as an advisor.

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