As 'Avatar' conquers, Fox also eyes local releases

Local productions hold 50% or more share in China, India

HONG KONG -- Even as "Avatar" conquers the world, a senior Twentieth Century Fox executive says the Hollywood studio is also realizing the importance of foreign-language productions as he promotes new local releases in China and India.

James Cameron's 3-D sci-fi epic recently replaced the director's previous feature film, "Titanic," as the best-selling movie in the world of all time. Its latest global take is a staggering $2.2 billion, according to boxoffice tracking Web site Box Office Mojo.

But the head of Fox's international productions said the American studio is also keen to make movies in local languages because indigenous productions are gaining market share. In wealthy Japan, it's 65%; in India, 90%; in China, it's typically at least 50% -- although that's partly due to an annual quota of 20 foreign blockbusters.

"Our intention is to make films in many countries where there is such a big local market share like there is in China," Twentieth Century Fox International Productions President Sanford Panitch said in Hong Kong late Tuesday.

Panitch was attending the Hong Kong premiere of Fox's first Chinese-language production,

"Hot Summer Days." Directed by Tony Chan and Wing Shya, the romance is a collection of six love stories featuring a host of ethnic Chinese stars including Jacky Cheung, Nicholas Tse, Daniel Wu and Rene Liu.

"The growth in China has been absolutely amazing on so many levels ... The growth of the local films and the sophistication of the local films just make it a great opportunity," Panitch said.

Panitch spent a few hours in Hong Kong before flying to Mumbai, where he was due to attend the premiere of Fox's latest Hindi-language release, "My Name is Khan," which features Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan.

Besides "Hot Summer Days," the Fox executive said the company is developing a project with Hong Kong native John Woo and up-and-coming Chinese filmmakers. He declined to give details.

Twentieth Century Fox is part of News Corp.