Universe Int'l Holdings profits slide

Fiscal year's gross profits down 27.9%

HONG KONG -- Downturns in video distribution and the exhibition of Chinese-language films caused Universe International Holdings to lose HK$27.1 million ($3.47 million) in the fiscal year that ended in July, down from a profit of $1.47 million in 2007.

The producer of "Storm Warriors" said Monday that its 2008 gross profits fell 27.9% to $2.88 million for the year.

Video distribution profit fell 29.8%, but was offset by "stringent and effective cost control measures." Profits from film distribution in Hong Kong also shrunk 12.3% to $1.44 million.

The company said that neighboring China offers some hope. Profit from licensing and sub-licensing of film rights to China rose 2.3% to $12.15 million during the period. Sales to China also increased 14.3%.

Universe plans to grow outside Hong Kong, particularly in China, and to funnel more resources into large-scale productions. Its $12 million comic-book adaptation "Storm Warriors," directed by the Pang Brothers ("Bangkok Dangerous") is now in postproduction and scheduled for 2009.

In mid-June, the company's controlling shareholder, Globalcrest Enterprises -- through which Universe founder and chairman Daneil Lam and his ex-wife Chiu Yuet Ying own a 53.7% stake -- attempted to sell the company, but no agreement has been reached.