Variety says Ray helmer Taylor Hackford will direct Merchant of Shanghai, an English-language biopic about opium dealer and property magnate Silas Hardoon, who transformed Shanghai in the 19th century.
Hackford aims to start shooting in fall ’09 in Shanghai and surrounding areas.
Hardoon was a Baghdad Jew who immigrated to Shanghai, became a kingpin in the opium trade, and helped transform Shanghai from an obscure backwater to a major international city.
Hackford will collaborate with actress-writer Luo Yan of China’s Silver Dream Prods. to produce the film. Melvin Mar, producer of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, will executive produce.
Screenwriter Timothy J. Sexton (Children of Men) will rewrite.