'Rush Hour' director to make movie for Reliance's Big Entertainment


By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, July 6 (IANS) Hollywood filmmaker Brett Ratner, who has made films like "Rush Hour" and "X-Men: The Last Stand", has tied up with Reliance's Big Entertainment to bring cinematic material from all over the world to India.

He has now acquired a French graphic novel on behalf of the production house to be made into a film.

"It's to be titled 'Infinity'. It will be directed by Sylvain White. I feel the boundaries between Bollywood and world cinema are evaporating. And material with a strong visual appeal will enable Bollywood to go global," Ratner told IANS over phone from Berlin.

"This tie-up with Reliance has given me more creative and financial freedom. For example, I've this deal with Paramount. I can go to them now with Reliance's financial proposal and get more room for quick and effective negotiation," he said.

Ratner can't believe how quickly he cut a deal with Reliance.

"I met the Reliance team at the Cannes film festival. And before I could get back to the US, the contract was ready. When I met these guys, I realised they loved cinema. And that's very important to me. In the US, the studio system is run by business giants who are not necessarily movie fans," he said.

Ratner wants to use his partnership with Reliance to distribute Jackie Chan movies in the Indian market.

"I did those 'Rush Hour' films with Jackie Chan and I share an incredible relationship with him. And Jackie has told me that his cinema has an amazing market in Bollywood. I thought if I cut a deal with Reliance, I could bring the Jackie Chan movies into India.

"No other director in Hollywood is as close to Jackie Chan as I am. Every Chinese production that Jackie Chan acts in, he wants me to be part of it. The guy is a workaholic. He does four-five films a year. A part of those films will be produced by a banner Jackie and I will float together. And I'll pass on those movies to Reliance for the Indian market," Ratner explained.

Ratner feels Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" has irreversibly changed the global fortunes of Bollywood.

"Look at how a small-budget film with unknown actors is garnering Oscars. 'Slumdog...' has opened up doors. It shows the US market that a hit movie can be made without Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks," he said.

Asked what he is doing in Berlin, Ratner said: "I'm here in Berlin because Roman Polanski is directing a new movie 'Ghost'. Every time he does a film, he asks me to visit him. And Pierce Brosnan, who starred in my film 'After The Sunset', is in Roman's film."

He is also set to make a movie out of Rob Liefeld's popular "Youngblood" superhero comics from the 1990s.

"'Youngblood' is the number one independent comic book in the world, on a par with Marvel and DC comics. So many studios wanted it. I was able to acquire 'Youngblood', thanks to Reliance who were very proactive in their decision. I'm very excited at the thought of making this film because I grew up on superhero comics. That's why I eventually made 'X Men'," the filmmaker said.

At one point, Ratner was supposed to direct "Superman".

"That's true. And when I couldn't do it, I was very upset. I thought there were no comic books for me direct. Brian Singer had 'X Men', Sam Raimi had 'Spiderman...' Which comic book would I do? Then of course I was able to do 'X Men'. After that I was hungry to do a series based on a comic book. I didn't want to do 'Iron Man' because it's considered a 'b' comicbook. 'Youngblood' has such a huge fan base," the director said.

(Subhash K. Jha can be contacted at [email protected])