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‘Brother Orange’ saga to hit big screen

And the film will star Jim Parsons, AKA Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory

Media giant Buzzfeed is moving into the film and TV business, and one of their first film projects is certain to draw attention in China. Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory (one of the most popular American TV shows in China) is set to star in an adaptation of the real life story of US  Buzzfeed journalist Matt Stopera and his unlikely Chinese BFF Brother Orange.

For those of you who weren’t following the Chinese internet in 2014, the tale began with Stopera losing his iPhone in January at a bar in New York.

A month later, strange pictures of a Chinese man taking selfies front of orange trees began showing up on his iPhone account. His phone had been sold to someone in China, who was busy taking pictures of his surroundings, which included an orange grove.

Stopera wrote an article about the incident in Buzzfeed, which was picked up in China and Chinese netizens began a hunt to find “Brother Orange,” which culminated in Stopera first getting a Weibo account, further boosting his celebrity status in China, then visiting his new friend in Meizhou, Guangdong, and causing quite the ruckus. Crowds swarmed him at the airport and in Brother Orange’s hometown: Gawker published an account of the full, surprisingly gripping saga the following year.

The film will be among the first film productions by Buzzfeed, and a screenplay is being prepared by Su Liang, the writer responsible for the hit 2015 action-comedy sequel Lost in Hong Kong.

Let’s just hope that they’re wise enough to cast an ethnic Chinese guy as Brother Orange…


Cover image from Weibo and


David Dawson is the former deputy editor of The World of Chinese.

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