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Cinemas open wider to foreign investment(12/20/03)

    Foreign investment may run up to 75 percent of a Sino-foreign joint venture cinema in certain Chinese cities starting from Jan. 1, 2004, according to new rules.

    The treatment is granted to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, Wuhan and Nanjing. In other places, foreign investment is allowed a 49 percent stake at most, according to the interim rules on foreign investment in cinemas issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

    The rules set the maximum term of a Sino-foreign joint venture cinema at 30 years.

    Until now, foreign enterprises were allowed to invest in Chinese cinemas only as minority partners.

    Saturday's China Daily quoted Mao Yu, a senior official at the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, as saying thatabout 100 new joint-venture cinemas would be built next year and that foreign investment was "entering the market with astonishing speed".

    The English-language newspaper reported that Warner Bros would invest in many of the ventures, including a Tianjin cinema with 2,700 seats and another in Nanjing scheduled to open soon.

    Analysts here said introducing more foreign investment may helpmodernize existing cinemas and revitalize the movie industry, hit hard by the increasing popularity of home video players.

    Earlier, the administration has issued rules on simplifying censorship on movies and scripts, encouraging Chinese-made movies to participate in more international film festivals, allowing foreign capital to fund film production as minority partners, and allowing non-sate funds in film production.


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