Lionsgate Boards ‘Loveboat, Taipei’ From Arvin Chen and Abigail Hing Wen (EXCLUSIVE)

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Lionsgate is set to handle the global sales of “Loveboat, Taipei” a U.S.-Taiwanese YA romance film that started production in Taiwan shortly before Christmas.

The picture is based on a best-selling novel by Abigail Hing Wen in which a young American woman is sent by her parents to a cultural immersion program in Taipei. The trip turns into a summer of romance and she has to choose between the attention of two attractive, but significantly different, young men and her true passion of dancing.

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“Lionsgate is handling all global sales on the film though it’s too early to discuss specific territories,” a company spokesman told Variety in an emailed statement.

With its blend of Asian-American characters, romantic decisions and dance moves, the story has been pitched as a mix of “Crazy Rich Asians” and “La La Land.”

Taiwanese-American director Arvin Chen (“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”) was drafted to direct the picture which stars Ashley Liao (“Fresh Off The Boat,” “Physical”) as Ever and Ross Butler (“Shazam,” “To All The Boys: Always and Forever”) and Nico Hiraga (“Booksmart,” TV’s “Ballers”) as her suitors.

The production is headed by Ace Entertainment (“To All The Boys” franchise, “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”), which bought the rights to Wen’s novel shortly after publication in early 2020, and 1 Productions Film. The budget is officially $10 million.

Chen last year originated and directed a Taiwan indie film “Mama Boy,” which is now in advanced post-production. It stars leading Taiwan acting stars Kai Ko (“You Are The Apple of My Eye”) and Vivian Hsu (“The Shoe Fairy”) as a shy young man who finds himself attracted to a single mother at a sex hotel. International sales are handled by Distribution Workshop. Aileen Li (“Detention”) is producer, Jake Pollock (“Soulmate”) is cinematographer.

Financiers on “Mama Boy” include Taiwanese firms A Really Good Film Company, MyVideo, Cinemark and Third Man Entertainment.

Wen is scheduled to release her second novel “Loveboat Reunion” this month (Jan 25, 2022). In media interviews Wen has pitched the sequel as: “Two fan favorites, Sophie Ha and Xavier Yeh team up to take control of their own lives, and find themselves on a wild unexpected reunion in Taipei.”

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