Showbiz

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Chinese film officials deny curbs on showing Hollywood movies

Posted by jahanzaibmemon on December 12, 2007

HONG KONG – Chinese film industry officials have denied a news report that China is banning Hollywood movies for three months to protect local films.

The Hollywood trade magazine Variety reported the ban on its Asian news website Thursday. It said the ban began on Saturday and will last until the end of February and may be extended until May.

The report did not identify its sources.

Zhang Pimin, deputy director-general of China’s Film Bureau, and Xiao Ping, vice-president of import and export business at state-run China Film Group, both denied the report in phone interviews Thursday.

“We haven’t received instructions like that and we haven’t set policies like that,” Zhang said.

“We’re continually going through Hollywood movies. We haven’t stopped,” Xiao said.

Xiao declined, however, to say which American films China Film Group was considering showing in the next few months. The movies also have to be cleared by Chinese censors.

She said China Film Group has imported more than 20 foreign films this year.

Zhang said China has finished showing major Hollywood movies for 2007 – “Transformers” was a big hit this year – and American films aiming for release in China in 2008 haven’t been sent to censors yet.

UIP, which distributes movies for Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures abroad, said “Bee Movie,” the new Jerry Seinfeld animated movie, is still waiting to be reviewed by Chinese censors.

Mike Ellis, regional director of the Hollywood trade group Motion Picture Association, said the group has not received word of a ban from either the Chinese government or China Film Group.

“If there is any substance to the story, it would be a step backward in terms of developing a commercial marketplace,” he said.

Officials at Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures in Hong Kong and China didn’t immediately respond to phone or e-mail messages.

Disney spokeswoman Alannah Goss declined comment.

In the past, Chinese regulators have tried to maximize revenue for Chinese studios by banning foreign films from theatres during holidays and school vacations, when audiences are biggest.

The Film Bureau has also expressed support for a Chinese movie company’s recent plan to set up a network of movie theatres that show only Chinese-made films.

News of the possible ban comes ahead of the release of two major Chinese-language movies in December – Hong Kong director Peter Chan’s US$40 million historical epic “The Warlords” and Chinese director Feng Xiaogang’s $11 million war movie “Assembly.”

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