Hong Kong's UA, Emperor Strike Deal to Build Cinemas in China

UA Cinemas H

The two companies, which have been distribution partners in Hong Kong for years, plan to jointly fund and operate cinemas in six Chinese cities.

HONG KONG -- Emperor Motion Pictures and UA Cinemas have announced a strategic alliance to construct and operate cinemas in the mainland China, with the first site in Foshan slated for an opening in early 2014.

The 12-screen venue, which is part of the Nanhai VivoCity complex in the city in the Guangdong province, is designed to seat 1,500 viewers and will be followed by cinemas in Dongguan, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chongqing and Shanghai, according to a joint statement released by the companies on Wednesday.

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The UA Cinemas chain, which was founded in Hong Kong in 1985, is already running cinemas under its own brand in Shenzhen and Guangzhong, as well as three sites in Shanghai, Wuhan and Chongqing, which are operated under the Studio City Cinemas Brand. It will be Emperor Motion Pictures’ first attempt in branching out beyond its core businesses of film production -- known for hits such as Let the Bullets Fly -- and distribution, for which it has collaborated successfully with UA Cinemas for years, bringing big ticket titles like The Hunger Games to Hong Kong.

A UA spokeswoman said the cinema-building partnership will not be extended to Hong Kong for the time being.

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The announcement was made in the run-up to Filmart, Hong Kong's annual film and television market. Emperor will be presenting their latest slate of productions there, as well as launching a collaboration with cable broadcaster Star TV.

There has been a near exponential expansion of the number of cinema screens in mainland China over recent years. As of the end of 2012, China had more than 13,000 screens in operation; and an average 10 screens are being built every day.