Palm Energizes Development Slate with Re-Make of Martial Arts Classic

by Eugene Hernandez

Jose Martinez, Jr. the general manager of Arthouse Films, with David Koh, head of acquisitions & production for Palm Pictures and Arthouse Films on the deck outside their office in New York. Credit: Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

Palm Pictures, Chris Blackwell's entertainment company that has jumpstarted its film distribution business over the past year, is in the process of invigorating its production and development slate in conjunction with its Arthouse Films label. The company announced Tuesday that the first project in the new development slate will be a remake of Jimmy Wang Yu's classic mid-1970s martial arts film, "Master of the Flying Guillotine."

"We are very excited about the remake of the legendary 'Guillotine'. It remains one of my favorite martial arts films," said David Koh, head of acquisitions & production for Palm Pictures and Arthouse Films, in a prepared statement. "The 'Guillotine' remake will be an update of the classic with a hip-hop soundtrack and an urban edge."

The original film stars Jimmy Wang Yu as a one-armed boxer and martial arts expert, who in the words of the announcement, "is targeted by the blind Shaolin master of the flying guillotine." The actor was an early martial arts star who crossed over here in the United States and the film is hailed as a martial arts classic. Koh is currently working on director and writer attachments for the project and hopes to be in production early next year. Jimmy Wang Yu will not be involved with the re-make.

In yesterday's announcement, Koh indicated that the Palm development slate will include two types of movies. First are projects budgeted between $250,000 and $6 million, which will be developed and funded by Palm (including digital movies and original DVD projects). Those will likely be released by Palm Pictures. On the other end of the spectrum are films with higher budget range, like "Guillotine" -- which will be made with production partners that will be secured on a case by case basis and likely distributed via partners who can secure a wider release.

Development and production partners have yet to be announced. Koh said that Palm's complete development slate of about 10 projects will be announced in October. It will include a mix of re-makes and originals.

The deal for "Guillotine" was negotiated by Koh, Jose Martinez, Jr., the general manager of Arthouse Films, and Mark Ragone, head of business affairs, film & video for Palm Pictures, with Wong Hoi and attorney Jonathan Lonner on behalf of First Distributors (H.K.) Ltd.

Over the past few years, Palm has produced a number of films, including Kyentse Norbu's "The Cup," James Toback's "Black and White," John Luessenhop's "Lockdown" and Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman's "One Giant Leap." Palm's recent theatrical releases include Helen Stickler's skater doc "Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator," Claude Berri's French comedy, "The Housekeeper," and Matthew Barnery's arty "The Cremaster Cycle."

[DISCLOSURE: indieWIRE Managing Member and Co-Founder Karol Martesko-Fenster is part of the executive management team of Palm Pictures.]