The project was set to roll in early 2008 in China, but the authorities blocked the shoot just a few weeks before production was set to begin. China's exit meant walking away from sets that had been built, at a cost of three million dollars. The Weinstein Company shifted the shoot to London and Thailand, where sets have been built re-creating Shanghai's old colonial architecture.
The brainchild of Mike Medavoy, who was born in Shanghai in 1941, and who developed the story through his Phoenix Pictures shingle. The project was subsequently bought by Harvey Weinstein, while still at Miramax. It took eight years to get it made.