China game maker eyes movie biz

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SHANGHAI -- Chinese online game developer Shanda Interactive Entertainment is working with filmmakers including Hong Kong producer-director Johnnie To to turn at least three online novels into feature films.

The move is part of the Nasdaq-listed company's strategy to branch out from China's increasingly crowded online gaming space to tap the growing niche of online novels and make them into movies, a Shanda spokesman said Thursday at the sixth annual China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference.

On July 3, Shanghai-based Shanda formed a new business unit, Shanda Literature Ltd., which already has purchased film rights to three other online novels.

Shanda and To, best known in the West for his "Election" films, are in the early stages of turning the popular online novel and game "Gui Chui Deng" (Ghost Lantern) into a movie with the Shanghai Hua Ying Film Co., to which Shanda sold the film rights in 2007. They hope for a 2009 release.

In February, Shanda reported record full-year 2007 revenue up 49% to $337.8 million and has predicted that revenue will continue to grow 6%-9% per quarter in 2008.
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