Producer John Fusco Talks MARCO POLO, Hiring an Unknown Lead, Working With Netflix, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON 2, and More

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Based on the famed explorer’s adventures in Kublai Khan’s ornate court in 13th century China, the 10-episode Netflix original series Marco Polo is set in a world filled with greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue and rivalry.  Marco Polo (Lorenzo Richelmy) is a young Italian merchant who arrives in China with a father he barely knows, who then offers him to the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong) as a servant.  Captivated by the traveler’s way with words, Kublai Khan and Marco Polo develop a deep trust and bond that leads to many tales of adventure and legend.

During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, show creator/writer/executive producer John Fusco talked about why he was compelled to tell the story of Marco Polo, why Netflix was ultimately the perfect home for the show, the approach they decided to take with the material, having an unknown Italian actor in the lead role of such an epic series, and that there’s a treasure trove of material for possible future seasons.  He also talked about writing the sequel for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which will be available exclusively through Netflix and at IMAX theaters on August 28, 2015, basing it on the sequel to the source material, introducing a new generation of sword heroes and star-crossed lovers, the return of Michelle Yeoh, and bringing in Woo-ping Yuen as director.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

MARCO POLO Trailer Teases Swordplay and a Massive Scale for Netflix’s Biggest Series Yet

by     Posted 51 days ago


Netflix has released the first Marco Polo trailer for its upcoming historical drama series.  The show follows the explorer’s adventures throughout the 13th century in the court of Kublai Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire.  Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador, and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East, resulting in a story filled with greed, betrayal, sexual intrigue, and rivalry.  The show was created and written by John Fusco (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron), and Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) directed the first two episodes.  This trailer certainly teases a massive scope, as this appears to be Netflix’s biggest original series yet.  There’s also plenty of sex and violence, but I’m most struck by the impressive visuals.  Indeed, the drama was shot on location in Italy, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia.

Watch the first Marco Polo trailer after the jump.  The series stars Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong, Joan Chen, Chin Han, Zhu Zhu, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Mahesh Jadu, Tom Wu, Remy Hii, Uli Latukefu, and Rick Yune.  The 10-episode first season of Marco Polo will be available to stream in its entirety on Netflix starting December 12th.

MARCO POLO Images and Release Date Revealed; The New Netflix Show Debuts in December

by     Posted 112 days ago


Hot off its 31 Primetime Emmy nominations, Netflix has unveiled the premiere date and a set of images for the brand new original series, Marco Polo.  The show is based on Marco Polo’s exploits in Kublai Khan’s court in China and will feature newcomer Lorenzo Richelmy as the title character and The Man with the Iron FistsZhu Zhu as Kokachin, Marco Polo’s love interest.  Kon-Tiki’s Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg directed the first two episodes and executive produce the season alongside show creator John Fusco as well as Dan Minahan and Harvey Weinstein.

Hit the jump to check out the first five Marco Polo images.  All ten episodes will debut on Netflix on December 12th at 12:01am PST.  The show also stars Joan Chen, Benedict Wong, Remy Hii, Olivia Cheng, Claudia Kim, Uli Latukefu and Tom Wu.

John Lee Hancock to Direct Bonnie & Clyde Manhunt Film HIGHWAYMEN; Liam Neeson and Woody Harrelson Courted to Star

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Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Alamo) has long been circling the director’s chair on the drama Highwaymen, and now it looks like the project is finally coming together. Hancock has signed on to helm the pic, which centers on the manhunt for infamous bank robbers Bonnie & Clyde during the Great Depression.  The protagonist of the story is Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, a lawman with quite the reputation (he survived 100 gunfights and killed 53 people) who was coaxed into putting together a team of Rangers to finally take down Bonnie & Clyde following an embarrassing Texas prison break headed up by Clyde Barrow.

Hit the jump for more on the project, including which actors Hancock is eyeing to lead the film.

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON Sequel Being Prepped for May Start; Ronny Yu May Direct

by     Posted 1 year, 328 days ago


Nothing’s going to come close to the news of J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars: Episode VII today, but a sequel of a different sort is also moving closer to production.  Deadline reports that The Weinstein Company is planning on a May production start date on the sequel to Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  The follow-up is based on author Wang Du Lu’s Silver Vase, Iron Knight, which is the fourth book in the Crane-Iron Pentalogy.  The pic has a script by John Fusco (Hidalgo, Young Guns) and Ronny Yu (Freddy vs. Jason, Bride of Chucky) is in talks to direct.

The story again centers on the character of Yu Shu Lien, played by Michelle Yeoh in the first film.  Casting will begin once the director is officially signed, but some actors are expected to reprise their roles and Fusco imagines choreographer Wo Ping Yuen to come back.

Starz Announces Epic 13th Century MARCO POLO Series

by     Posted 2 years, 339 days ago

Starz has journeyed back to Rome and Camelot with a couple of their original series, and now the cable network is heading into the past again for Marco Polo, a new epic series about the legendary 13th century explorer from Hidalgo writer John Fusco and executive producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Ben Silverman. Described as a martial arts epic, the series will follow Polo’s adventures throughout his early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire. Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East and returns with tales of his journeys.  In a court filled with political betrayal and forbidden relationships, Marco must use his martial arts training to survive, but it is his ability to enchant Khan with imaginative tales of his kingdom that is often his best tool to stay alive.

It definitely sounds like a side of Marco Polo that hasn’t been explored on the big or small screen, but it seems strange to think of Polo as a martial arts expert. Sounds a little bit like 13th century Jason Bourne without the identity crisis. Starz has had great success with Spartacus, but I haven’t found myself being drawn to their original content as much as networks like HBO or Showtime. However, they show no signs of slowing down in their efforts to complete with the Emmy nominated giants. Hit the jump for the full press release.

Scott Mann Hired to Direct SEVEN SAMURAI Remake for The Weinstein Company

by     Posted 3 years, 229 days ago


Remaking Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is an exercise in futility* but so is railing against remakes.  They’re going to happen, and they’re probably not going to be as good as the original, but you’ll always have that original.  The Weinstein Company is remaking Seven Samurai but that doesn’t mean Harvey Weinstein is coming to my house and confiscating my Criterion Collection Blu-ray.  Variety reports that the studio has hired Scott Mann to helm the remake (written by Young Guns screenwriter John Fusco).  The new Seven Samurai will have a $60 million budget, reset the action from feudal Japan to modern-day Thailand, and replace the samurai with paramilitary contractors.  It’s a smart update because as we all know, the age of the paramilitary contractor is coming to an end and those mercenaries who work for companies like Blackwater are truly noble and tragic figures.

Mann’s been receiving some attention for his recent film The Tournament, but The Playlist says the flick is “pretty turgid overall.”  For those who’ve never seen Seven Samurai, I’ve included a synopsis for the film after the jump, but I want you to promise me you’ll see the movie ASAP.  Deal?

DAY OF WAR Imagines the Early Life of King David as a 3D Franchise of Biblical Proportions

by     Posted 4 years, 96 days ago


GiantKiller Pictures has hired John Fusco (Hidalgo) to adapt Cliff Graham’s Day of War, the first book in the Lion of War series that debuts in the spring.  The books center on the early life of David prior to his tenure as king of Israel.  Director David L. Cunningham (The Seeker: The Dark is Rising) remarked,

“[Graham] has written a dynamic series that is highly cinematic.  He has found a fresh, inspired take on the ancient story of King David and his lethal outcasts, the Mighty Men, that has stood the test of time for thousands of years.  The gritty characters, their complicated lives and the supernatural themes make for an exciting combination.”  [Risky Business]


With five books on the way, there should be plenty of material for an historical action franchise.  In 3D of course.  At this stage, I’m definitely intrigued by the project, but I’d be 17% more likely to see it if they called it David & the Mighty Men.  Hit the jump for the official book synopsis.

IN THE BEGINNING, Cary Granat and Paramount United to 3D-up the Book of Genesis

by     Posted 4 years, 285 days ago

Book of Genesis.jpg

Paramount Pictures and former Walden Media co-founder Cary Granat will attempt to literally bring audiences closer to God by creating In the Beginning, a 3D adaptation of the Book of Genesis.  Deadline reports that John Fusco (Hidalgo) has written a script to be directed by David Cunningham about the Judeo-Christian creation story.  The $30 million film hopes to attract the faith-n-family crowd that made The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe such a success.

In the Beginning will most likely eclipse Beowulf‘s record for “Most Time Spent in a 3D Movie Trying to Cover up a Protagonist’s junk.

END CREDITS: TMNT, Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, and the director of Lesbian Vampire Killers

by     Posted 5 years, 151 days ago


Four stories that didn’t necessarily merit their own headlines popped up on the trades tonight, including the latest developments on the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” feature.  Hit the jump to find out more on that bit of news as well as what’s next for Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron and the director of “Lesbian Vampire Killers”…

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