Need for Speed

HONG KONG – DreamWorks’ “Need for Speed” is set to race onto mainland China screens from March 14.

In China, where the 3D format remains hugely popular, the actioner is set to be handled by Huaxia Film Distribution and China Film Group.

Currently riding high is Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug,” which is playing on 4,140 screens and ended its second weekend with a cumulative total of RMB340.6 million ($56.2 million) according to data from Warner Bros. The film is produced by MGM, New Line Cinema and WingNut Films with Warner releasing in multiple territories.

(Chinese stereoscopic hit “The Monkey King” remained in sixth place after over a month on release and has totaled $167 million.)

Huaxia will also take out “Free Birds,” the Reel FX Creative Studios animation from Friday (March 7). The number two state-owned distributor, Huaxia has a formal relationship with U.S. group Relativity Media.

Chinese sources have also confirmed the mainland release date for “Black Coal, Thin Ice,” as March 21. Winner of the Golden Bear top prize at last month’s Berlin festival, the film portrays a dark side of Chinese society not normally shown in local films. But “Thin Ice” appears to have proved less controversial with China’s censors than another prize-winning Chinese movie.

Jia Zhangke’s overtly critical “A Touch of Sin,” which debuted in Cannes last year, remains without a release date, despite its backing from the Shanghai Film Group and repeated assurances that it will be given an outing.

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