The wait for a new project from Wong Kar-wai is going to get longer as the South China Morning Post reports that the director’s Amazon series “Tong Wars” has been cancelled. Sources close to the director told the Post that “Tong Wars” has been “canceled for some time” and never started production. Additionally, Wong’s long-in-the-works feature film “Blossoms” is reportedly being put on hold indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak in China. “Blossoms” was going to be filmed on location in Shanghai where the story is set. Amazon confirms “Tong Wars” has been nixed from its slate.
Amazon announced in September 2017 that it would be going into production on the series “Tong Wars,” directed by Wong Kar-wai and written by Paul Attanasio (“Quiz Show,” “Donnie Brasco”). At the time of the announcement, Amazon Studios’ then-president Roy Price said in a statement, “It’s a very compelling show and a prime example of a period piece that blends the epic history of Chinese immigration to the U.S. with a crime potboiler.” Price stepped down from his position at Amazon following sexual harassment charges, but sources close to Amazon told IndieWire at the time that production on “Tong Wars” had not been interrupted. Wong spoke with IndieWire a month after “Tong Wars” was confirmed to share his excitement about moving into television.
“The format of a TV series just provides filmmakers a bigger canvas to tell their stories,” Wong said. “Of course, I know why there are questions about this because today people are worried about whether this TV series or this kind of storytelling will become a competition to cinema. I don’t think so. They are just the different children of Lumiere. For filmmakers, they are just different canvases to paint their work, to show their ideas and tell their stories.”
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As for “Blossoms,” the feature film is based on Jin Yucheng’s 2013 novel and follows the lives of three Shanghai residents from the end of China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s through their life in America in the 1990s. The director has teased “Blossoms” will be a spiritual sequel to “In the Mood for Love,” similar to “2049.” The movie was set to be Wong’s first feature since “The Grandmaster” in 2013. Now the project appears to be on hold because of the coronavirus. Wong told Filmmaker Magazine last year why he wanted to return to film with Jin Yucheng’s novel.
“I think the Chinese-American experience has a lot of connections and inference with what’s becoming modern China now,” Wong said. “It’s a very interesting history and experience that hasn’t been addressed properly, and I think that would be something that would be very interesting to do. That’s why we also went to Chinatown here [in Honolulu], because that’s the first spot before San Francisco Chinatown.”
“Blossoms” is one of several projects in China that are being delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The South China Morning Post says that “filming is expected to resume as soon as the health emergency in China has passed.”