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SPE opens distrib arm in Beijing

Sony Pictures Entertainment has opened a distribution office in the Chinese capital Beijing for its filmed entertainment – sparking speculation that other Hollywood majors will soon open their own outlets in the world’s most populous nation.

A statement from the company announced that Prime Communications president Mishka Chen will head a five-person team to run theatrical, television and homevideo distribution in China.

SPE said Chen would control all of the filmed entertainment licensing and distribution in China and keep an eye on SPE’s releases into Chinese cinemas, advertising sales and publicity.

A source with SPE added, “There may be oportunities down the road for co-production ventures with groups within China both in the film and television fields.”

China earlier this year scrapped both its policy of buying rights to films for a flat $5,000 fee for a policy of sharing box office grosses as well as the de facto scrapping of a quota on the number of foreign films allowed to be screened each year.

“China is a linchpin of the continued rapid growth of our business in Asia. This is the world’s largest market in terms of population, and it offers dynamic long-term opportunities for the expansion of our core theatrical, television and homevideo businesses, as well as helping to position SPE at the cutting edge of electronic distribution initiatives throughout the Far East.” the company said in its statement.

SPE is remaining pragmatic about the task facing Chen, particularly in homevid distrib where piracy is rampant.

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