Hong Kong deal may pave way for H'wood

BEIJING — Action star Jackie Chan was among 80 thesps and producers who met culture officials in Beijing to work out details of a ground-breaking agreement that will give Hong Kong’s pics greater access to China’s restricted market.

The high-profile weekend trip centered on freeing up distribution and film classification.

“The whole trip will yield very positive results very soon,” promised Woody Tsung, chief of the Hong Kong’s film industry group, MPIA.

“It was an opportunity to let them know our concerns and our proposals on new developments after the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA),” a new free trade agreement between Hong Kong and China signed last month that takes effect in January.

Under the deal, Hong Kong companies’ Chinese-language movies will no longer be subject to the 20-pic-a-year quota limiting the number of foreign films distributed in China.

Hollywood mavens will watch to see how CEPA works, as it could be a blueprint for their releases in China. Restrictions on film distribution in China are expected to ease now that the country is a member of the World Trade Organization.

China has just two distributors for foreign films and Tsung said the Chinese had already taken the first steps to reform the system. He said freeing up distribution was key to opening up the market.

The Hong Kong delegation also discussed plans for a classification system that will make it easier for films from the former British colony to enter the tightly controlled mainland market, said Crucindo Hung, chairman of Delon Intl. Film.

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