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The Story of 'Brother Orange' Is Headed to the Big Screen

In 2014, the internet phenomenon "Brother Orange" connected Chinese and American internet culture. Now, it's becoming a movie.
Matt Stopera visits "Brother Orange" Li Hongjun in China.
Matt Stopera visits "Brother Orange" Li Hongjun in China.VideoSource/YouTube

The story of internet phenomenon “Brother Orange” is becoming a movie, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.

Based on a true story that went viral in both the United States and China, the “Brother Orange” film will “tell a story about an unlikely, accidental friendship that transcended cultural divides,” according to the report. The saga began in 2014 when Buzzfeed editor Matt Stopera had his iPhone stolen from him. Stopera had assumed that he’d never hear about his lost phone again, until a series of strange images popped up on his iCloud nearly a year later.

After Stopera wrote a BuzzFeed article in early 2015 about the unexplained images, the story went viral in China. The pictures seemed to be coming from the perspective of a Chinese man — one who enjoyed taking pictures of oranges, causing him to be dubbed “Brother Orange” by the Chinese media. After a widespread internet search took place, Li Hongjun stepped forward and identified himself as the man from the photos. By the time he revealed himself in early 2015, both Stopera and Li had become minor celebrities in China.

The months following the identification, Stopera visited Li in China, accompanied by media frenzy. After Stopera’s visit, Brother Orange returned the favor a month later by visiting Stopera in the United States, where he experienced Las Vegas and New York. The two also appeared on Ellen, where the story was introduced to a larger American audience.

Warner Bros. and BuzzFeed will collaborate on the project with Flagship Entertainment, a joint venture between Warner Bros., China Media Capital, and Hong Kong-based broadcaster TVB.

Stopera will be executive producing the project with “Broad City” co-creator Ilana Glazer. Ellen Degeneres and Jeff Kleeman will also executive produce, according to the report. A release date has not yet been confirmed for the project.

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