China film studios plan Shanghai stock offerings in sign of Beijing's Hollywood ambitions

HONG KONG – Two big Chinese state-owned film studios are planning to sell shares on the Shanghai stock exchange in a sign of Beijing’s desire to build a film industry that can compete with Hollywood.

China Film Co. and Shanghai Film Group Co. are on a list of companies preparing to go public in Shanghai. The list was posted this week on the website of China’s securities regulator.

No details were provided on how much money they plan to raise or timetables for their initial public offerings. Officials at both companies declined to provide any further information when contacted by phone.

A stock offering would help the companies raise money for big-budget blockbuster productions rivaling the Hollywood movies that are increasingly popular in China’s government-controlled film market.

Beijing-based China Film’s credits include the critically acclaimed 2010 box office hit “Let The Bullets Fly,” starring Chow Yun-fat. It was also involved in the 2010 remake of “The Karate Kid,” which starred Jackie Chan and was filmed in China. The company is part of the China Film Group, one of two companies authorized to distribute foreign movies in China.

The Shanghai Film Group, part of the Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group, produced “Aftershock,” a 2010 drama about a devastating 1976 earthquake, as well as 2005’s “The White Countess,” starring Ralph Fiennes and set in Shanghai.

China’s leaders hope to develop the country’s cultural industries as a way to expand their influence abroad. They’ve reached out to Hollywood this year as they look for co-production deals that would help their studios make movies that appeal to both Chinese and global audiences.

For their part, Hollywood studios such as Dreamworks Animation have been teaming up with Chinese partners to gain access to China’s fast-growing but tightly regulated film market.

Chinese adore foreign movies, and six of the top 10 highest grossing films in the country last year were Hollywood productions, including “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

But leaders are also worried that domestic moviegoers are increasingly choosing Hollywood flicks over local ones.

Tian Jin, deputy head of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, the industry regulator, said earlier this month that domestic films took 41.4 per cent of total box office receipts in the first 10 months of 2012, according to a report by the official Xinhua news agency. That was down from the year before, though the report did not say by how much.

China’s box office revenue rose more than a third in 2011 to $2 billion, putting the country on pace to become the world’s second largest movie market after the combined U.S. and Canadian region this year.


Researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed to this report.