WB, Tom click online China deal

Site to carry trailers, games, ringtones, video

HOLLYWOOD — With “Batman Begins” set for its Chinese theatrical release on June 29, Hong Kong media group Tom Online is to front Warner Bros. China’s expanding Internet presence on the mainland.

Deal struck between Warner Bros. Online and Tom delivers studio content into the world’s largest online market via Internet and wireless platforms.

A dedicated Web site that is part of the Tom.com portal will carry trailers, games, ringtones and video formatted for mobile users. Although the site will allow financial transactions, there are no plans to enable paid-for streaming or downloading of features.

“The Chinese marketplace has extremely sophisticated tastes and understanding of online and wireless technologies, and in many cases, they are the preferred mediums for consuming entertainment,” said Jim Noonan, senior veep and general manager of Warner Bros. Online. Tom Online has more than 60 million registered subscribers.

Tom Online is part of billionaire Li Ka-shing’s diversified Tom Group. It had previous dealings with Time Warner in 2003 when it bought a controlling stake in Chinese-language TV channel CETV. Late last year, Tom Group bought a 35% stake in Chinese studios group Huayi Brothers.

Warner in-the-know people said that although the platform will have to operate within Chinese censorship regulations, as an entertainment and promo venture it does not expect to attract the same degree of political scrutiny as Microsoft’s MSN portal.

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