Jiang targets local auds with 'Rises' site

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BEIJING -- Chinese actor Jiang Wen celebrated the Venice Film Festival's selection of his "The Sun Also Rises" on Thursday by launching a Sohu.com Web site to promote the film at home.

Nasdaq-listed Sohu is one of China's leading Web portals and Jiang -- best known in the West for his role opposite Gong Li in Zhang Yimou's 1987 classic "Red Sorghum" -- told reporters that, while Venice was the right international platform for "Sun," Sohu will help the film reach its domestic boxoffice target of 100 million yuan ($13.2 million).

"While we all know that Cannes and Venice are important," Jiang said, "I make films not for the festivals but for the audience."

The "Sun" Web site unveiled with Sohu CEO Charles Zhang will promote the film -- which stars martial arts legend Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee Chan -- to the Web portal's audience of more than 100 million registered users.

Having a Web site is typical for Chinese films, but Sohu's Zhang said that "Sun" is the first to enjoy connection to the portal's just-launched video-sharing service, which he likened to Google-owned YouTube.

"Using our blogger base, we will see second and third opinions about films," Zhang said on the sidelines of a news conference.

Yu Dong, president of mainland distributor and Chinese army affiliate Beijing Poly Bona Film Distribution Co., said he formed his company around Jiang's 1994 directorial debut, "In the Heat of the Sun," which went on to earn 58 million yuan.

"This one will earn 100 million," Yu said.

Said Albert Lee, CEO of Hong Kong distributor Emperor Motion Pictures, which is handling international sales for Jiang's film: "There has been a lot of interest from distributors tracking this film since well before Cannes."

Having a single distributor buy rights to all major territories would be "nice," Lee said, but added that "A film like this might need special handling. Venice is going to be a big launching pad for us."

This year's edition of the Venice festival will feature another much-anticipated Chinese-language film, director Ang Lee's "Lust Caution."

Last year, Chinese director Jia Zhangke won the top prize at Venice for his film about the Three Gorges Dam, "Still Life."
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