Film company going digital, readies upcoming slate and venue plans

HONG KONG — Following a period of economic recession, internal upheaval and an industrywide slump, Golden Harvest is ready to reinvent itself.

That’s what C.K. Phoon, director of Golden Harvest Entertainment, told participants at the first Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum, which runs through today.

“We have had lean and mean times, but payday is coming,” said Phoon, who heads up the distribution and exhibition side of the 30-year-old studio.

He ticked off a number of initiatives the company is pursuing this year, including an increased presence in China, a move toward digital films and cinemas and stronger links to the Internet.

Investing in digital

Just last week Golden Harvest investor Village Roadshow sold a 22% stake to Acer Digital, an arm of the Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer. A Taiwanese investment company took another 8% and Golden Harvest chairman Raymond Chow bought an additional 4.8%.

Acer Digital has said it wants to develop digital entertainment services.

“We want to be Internet-enabled very soon,” Phoon said. “We will look to introduce digital cinemas in Asia.”

He added that the company is going to aggressively increase the number of screens in Hong Kong and China.

As part of its network of 283 screens around Asia, Golden Harvest operates two cinemas in Shanghai and plans to open an Imax theater there later this year.

“I like big screens,” he said. “The bigger the better.”

On the production side, a dozen films are in the works for this year, including Jackie Chan’s project for next spring titled “The Accidental Spy.”

As part of Golden Harvest’s plan to reinvigorate its brand name, Chan will do his first nude scene. When attackers chase him naked through a Turkish bath, he has to fight back and look for a cover-up at the same time.

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