Christian Bale is set to star in Nanjing Heroes, the next film by acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou. According to THR, the film's budget is slated at approximately $90 million, but no start date was announced for the production. Bale's current project is the (presumed) final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, so it is expected that he will not begin shooting Zhang's film until that is finished, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, only about 40% of the film is in English, which suggests that those scenes can be scheduled for later in the production.
Based on a script by Yan and Liu Heng, whose previous collaboration was the novel upon which Zhang's Ju Dou was based, Nanjing Heroes documents the Nanjing Massacre of 1937, where Japanese soldiers killed thousands of Chinese citizens. Bale will reportedly play an American priest named John who helps Chinese refugees escape the massacre.
Additionally, Zhang announced plans to collaborate with Dark Side FX, the Hollywood-based effects team responsible for work on The Dark Knight and Saving Private Ryan. Conversely, he provided no further information about its production or international distribution, although Sony Pictures Classics distributed many of Zhang's films in the past, including his most recent film, A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop. In the meantime, the head of the Hong Kong-based company EDKO Films contacted THR to say that EDKO will be involved in securing those international distribution rights, although he referred to the film by a different title, 13 Flowers of Nanjing.
Zhang was an instrumental member of China's fifth wave filmmaking movement, and is perhaps the mainland's best known filmmaker. To the public at large, he is best known for the 2002 film Hero, which earned $54 million in the United States, and for directing the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.