Asia major

Beijing provides an ideal backdrop to CineAsia.

BEIJING -- For the second year in a row, CineAsia -- the only film industry convention to focus exclusively on the Asia-Pacific market -- will unspool Dec. 5-7 in Beijing with an eye toward expanding its number of Asian exhibitors to strengthen the gathering's regional focus.

Last year, CineAsia helped celebrate the revival of China's 100-year-old film industry when it moved to Beijing in 2005 after more than a decade of jumping between Hong Kong and Bangkok.

"Following our recent visit to five Asian countries, we learned that our attendees wanted more Asian programming that was pertinent to the region," says Robert Sunshine, co-managing director of CineAsia. Now in its 14th year, the confab comes at a time when China's film industry continues to strive for growth like its peers in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. But the sector still faces an uphill climb due to government-imposed limits on which films get to market, strict censorship and rampant film piracy.

On the heels of Warner Bros. International Cinemas pulling its investment from China's theater sector after four years (HR 11/9), the first CineAsia Summit will add buzz to the convention as the largest Asian theatrical exhibition companies gather behind closed doors Dec. 6 at the Diaoyutai State Guest House to discuss pertinent issues affecting the business.

"On our trip to visit many of these circuits, we were amazed to learn how few of these exhibition giants knew each other, and so we decided to create a forum for them," Sunshine says. Renowned producer Terence Chang will talk with the group, which will include representatives from China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.

Elsewhere, open seminars will address the growth of digital cinema -- polling panelists from Technicolor, Kodak and other industry leaders -- as well as ways to make more money with in-theater marketing, pulling together voices from China, South Korea and the U.S.

CineAsia will be centered in the central business district of the Chinese capital at the China World Hotel and adjacent China World Trade Center, but the convention's opening event will take place at the new China Film Museum in East Beijing. There, IMAX will screen Warner Bros. Pictures' import "Happy Feet" and its China co-production "Crazy Stone," a summer sleeper hit in the region that is set to be screened with English subtitles for the first time.

Other films, such as Buena Vista International's "The Guardian," CJ Entertainment's "Lump of Sugar," Fox's "A Good Year" and United Pictures International's "The Holiday," will screen across town at the state-of-the-art New International Theater built by Wanda, China's leading domestic exhibition chain.