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Hollywood thriller 'Cellular' gets into Chinese groove

Hollywood has been mining Asian movies for ideas for years - but now an American studio is remaking one of its home productions as a Chinese-language movie with local partners.

Warner China Film HG - a joint venture between Warner Bros. and China's state-run China Film Group and Hengdian Group - is releasing "Connected" on Sept. 25, remaking the 2004 New Line Cinema thriller "Cellular," starring Kim Basinger.

New Line Cinema was an independent studio that's now part of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

"Cellular" is about a kidnapped woman who makes a random mobile phone call for help.

"Connected" changes the setting to Hong Kong and switches the cast to Chinese-speaking actors - Hong Kong's Louis Koo, China's Liu Ye and Taiwan's Barbie Hsu.

While Hollywood has remade Asian movies for years - Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," the horror films "The Ring" and "The Grudge" are based on Asian movies - "Connected" is billed as the first Chinese remake of a Hollywood movie.

Hong Kong director Benny Chan, who directed "New Police Story" and "Rob-B-Hood," says "Connected" improves on "Cellular" by injecting Hong Kong-style action sequences.

"In my movie, I added many elements that Hong Kong action movies do best - human combat, action, flying cars," Chan told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.

The director said he doesn't mind making a remake.

"What the world lacks most is good stories. If there's a story that investors think will work in the market and that I like, I don't think there's anything wrong with remaking it," Chan said.

"Cellular" made US$32 million in the U.S. and US$24.4 million abroad on a production budget of US$25 million, according to the box office tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.

"Connected" was budgeted at only US$5.8 million - even a conservative figure among growing Chinese movie budgets. John Woo's recent Chinese-language historical epic cost at least US$70 million.

Hollywood producer Roy Lee, who worked on many of the recent American remakes of Asian movies, says the effort makes financial sense "because it is taking ideas that worked well in one market and adapting them for others."

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