Applause gives hand to ‘Baby’

Pic to unspool on 18 screens in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — Applause Pictures has expanded its portfolio to include film distribution, starting with “Million Dollar Baby,” which bows Thursday.

Pic’s Oscar haul means it will unspool on 18 screens here, compared with the six scheduled before the Oscars, said Applause principal Peter Chan.

Applause plans to distribute eight to 12 films a year from Ruddy Morgan (the U.S. production company for “Million Dollar Baby”), plus its own pics, other Chinese-lingo movies and content from Korea and Thailand. It plans to boost its productions to seven to eight films a year from three to four.

Applause’s second distribution project will be its musical “Perhaps Love,” helmed by Chan and currently shooting in Beijing and Shanghai.

The $10 million pic is a co-production between Applause and Ruddy Morgan. China’s Stellar Media and Art, a joint venture between Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts and Celestial Pictures’ parent company, Astro, are investors.

Celestial will handle international sales, except for China and Hong Kong, which will be handled by Stellar and Applause, respectively.

The musical stars Takeshi Kaneshiro (“House of Flying Daggers”) and Chinese actress Zhou Xun (“Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”). It will bow this summer in Hong Kong, China and major Asian cities elsewhere.

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