'Aftershock' to shake U.S., Canada Oct. 29

China box office topper first film from new distrib

BEIJING – “Aftershock,” the Chinese-made Imax earthquake drama that has earned over $100 million from the domestic box office and is China’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, will open in the United States and Canada on Oct. 29.
Directed by Feng Xiaogang for Beijing-based Huayi Brothers Media -- China’s only publicly-listed major movie studio -- “Aftershock,” will release through a new partnership announced this week between AMC Entertainment and China Lion Film Distribution, a new company headed by Milt Barlow, former CEO of Village Road Show Australia.
China Lion is designed “to introduce mainstream Chinese movies in the United States and select Canadian provinces,” a statement from the company and Kansas City-based AMC said Wednesday.
China Lion is a joint venture between president and majority shareholder, China-based Jiang Yanming, founder of Technicolor Beijing, and Barlow’s New Zealand-based company Incubate, distributor of more than 30 Chinese movies in Australia and New Zealand for EVENT Cinemas over the last two years.
AMC’s exclusive partnership with China Lion kicks off with “Aftershock,” the biggest domestic film in Chinese box office history, on 23 screens in markets with a large Chinese demographic, namely New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Houston, Boston, Seattle, Toronto and Ottawa.
It was not immediately clear if the theaters listed for the North American release are equipped to showcase “Aftershock” in its Imax size. "Aftershock” is the first of a three-picture deal between Huayi and Imax and the first Imax film made outside the U.S. and not in English. Imax earlier said it would release the Chinese language film -- about the 1976 Tangshan earthquake that killed at least 240,000 people -- in 14 locations around the U.S. No update from Imax on those original plans was available at press time.
Through the AMC/China Lion deal, China Lion will supply up to 15 films per year exclusively to AMC in the U.S. and Canada. “After a long absence, Chinese, Asian and European audiences will have access to the very best of Chinese theatrical releases, in most cases screening day and date with China,” Barlow said, defining the target audience as the more than 2 million Chinese residents in major U.S. and Canadian cities.
“I believe these films will quickly find accord with mainstream American audiences,” Barlow said, many Chinese pictures have topped the Australia and New Zealand box offices in recent years. “We expect the same profile in North America.”
Robert Lenihan, AMC president of programming said the partnership “is another step in embracing ethnic programming in the United States,” noting the company’s recent successes with Bollywood and Latino programming. “The quality of product coming from China is exceptional and Milt has demonstrated in Australia and New Zealand, throughout the past few years that ‘if you screen it they will come."