To date, I actually held hopes that Soi Cheang would be able to live out a live-action quadrilogy for his take on Wu Cheng’en’s classic tale of The Monkey King. The CGI-packed threequel garnered more of a lukewarm reception and that may have dampered further hopes, but maybe that will change. I’m not really sure.
Until then, any and all related efforts now lie at Shanghai-based Pearl Studio who are reportedly in the market for a new stake of their own in the mythological Chinese folk legend. Announcements out of France are hailing the project with the attachment of the incomparable Stephen Chow (BAFTA and Golden Globe Award nominated hit, Kung Fu Hustle) who is no stranger to the folkloric hero that has inspired many a TV, film and print franchise for years, including Chow’s own Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons and its 2017 sequel from Tsui Hark.
The character’s return to the big screen is being developed as an epic animated adventure for a global audience, signaling “a big step forward” for the studio as cited during a Pearl Studio Focus session at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Ron Friedman and Steve Bencich (Brother Bear, Chicken Little) are penning the film with Chow shepherding the film, and rightly so with Chow’s presence backed by his smash hit successes of both Journey titles which have held milestone achievements as China’s opening day and all-time highest grossers.
“Stephen Chow is the perfect creative partner to develop The Monkey King with Pearl Studio,” said Peilin Chou, Chief Creative Officer for Pearl Studio. “His involvement in this very special project, which is beloved throughout Asia, is a true coup. We know that he will bring all the comedy and scope that makes this adventure legend so special and translate The Monkey King into an enchanting and exciting global animated event.”
It wouldn’t be the first time The Monkey King got the animation treatment either, and as family friendly as this particular IP usually is most of the time and with Chow in the room, at best, expect this to be another Chinese New Year hit.