540 companies from 29 countries join H.K. mart

It’s too early to call it a recovery, but there are tentative signs of an uptick in biz in Asia.

More than 540 exhibitors from 29 countries gathered in balmy Hong Kong for Monday’s opening of the 14th Hong Kong Intl. Film and TV Market, also known as Filmart — and the buzz was noticeably more upbeat than the previous year.

Asia’s economic resilience means that Filmart can list itself, arguably, as one of the world’s top three film markets, featuring 260 film screenings, 60 seminars and networking sessions.

The focus will be on Europe-Asia cooperation and how indies can compete with high technology. Also, as with the rest of the planet, “Avatar’s” success has everyone sniffing around that onetime B-movie staple, 3D.

Much of the good news has been generated regionally. The Philippines and Taiwan both doubled their representation, while Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea all have grown their stands.

There is also a much stronger presence from Europe, with big delegations from France, especially, and regional interest from Germany, Austria, Croatia and Latvia.

It also boasts a strong Chinese mainland presence of more than 120 exhibitors, a crucial factor.

Zhou Tiedong, head of China Film Prods. Intl., put this into perspective when he said the Chinese market was “the fastest-growing in the world.

“We are the third-largest film-producing market in the world, with 456 feature films last year. And 7% of ‘Avatar’s’ revenues came from China,” he said.

Earlier this month China Film Group head Han Sanping said China was on track to become the world’s second-biggest film market.

“China’s film market earned 2 billion yuan ($290 million) during January and February. This year, it is no doubt that the total box office will be over ($1.46 billion),” Han said.

There is good news for Hollywood in China’s rise. China Film’s list of key films for this year includes “Clash of the Titans,” “Iron Man 2,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Shrek Forever After.”

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