Taylor Hackford making Merchant Of Shanghai

Taylor Hackford is getting into opium. Okay, not quite: he’s planning a biopic about property magnate/opium dealer Silas Hardoon called Merchant Of Shanghai

Variety reports that Hackford will chronicle how Hardoon, a Baghdad Jew who arrived in the city in the 19th century, became first an opium kingpin then helped change the city’s legacy from backwater to international hub.

The Ray director is developing the script with Children Of Men co-writer Timothy Sexton, before shooting later next year on location in Shanghai itself.

Chinese involvement

Hackford seems keen to make sure it’s a heavily Chinese production. “We will collaborate with a great amount of Chinese. It's a Chinese film out of Shanghai.”

We’re still wondering how the city will react to having the true, drug-fuelled story of its rebirth slapped up on screen, but the cooperation of a lot of local talent speaks volumes.