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BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Monkey King, meet Avatar.
Production has kicked off on a stereoscopic 3-D version of one of the biggest-ever Chinese language adventure tales as local filmmakers hope to match the gigantic success of "Avatar."
The film, "Monkey King," is based on the classic Chinese novel "The Journey to the West," which tells the story of a Buddhist monk's pilgrimage to India to collect religious texts.
One of the best-known stories from Chinese mythology, the popular tale is frequently adapted in for television and movies.
Aaron Kwok, a Hong Kong pop star, is cast as the Buffalo Demon King, while Chow Yun-fat, who starred in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," plays the Jade Emperor.
Other Hong Kong stars such as Donnie Yen, Kelly Chen, Gigi Leung and Peter Ho will also take part.
Kwok told a news conference Sunday that he hoped his character would come off better in the new movie than he does in tradition.
"In Donnie Yen's action design, I hope the Buffalo Demon King can beat Jade Emperor in fights," he said.
To create the 3-D effects needed for Monkey King, the film's producers have employed a Hollywood team including David Ebner, who worked on "Alice in Wonderland" and "Spider-Man 3." Daniel Symmes is cinematographer.
The popularity of 3-D movies has surged in China. James Cameron's Avatar took $206 million in box office revenues in China earlier this year, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Monkey King is budgeted at $40 million and is expected to make a positive return at the domestic Chinese box-office when it opens in July 2012. Approximately a third or more than 1,100 of China's movie screens are 3-D screens, according to Xinhua.
Reporting by Haze Fan; editing by Elaine Lies