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H.K.’s U Int’l profits soar, prod’n ramps up

40 local pics, one with China by year's end

HONG KONG — With profits rocketing over 90% at the end of last year, local outfit Universe Intl. Holdings is firmly on course to fulfill its expansion plans, which include completing 40 local pics and financing a $3.8 million Chinese co-production by the end of this year.

Positive outlook comes a year after the prolific film production and distributing company was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange July 22, 1999. It initially raised $6.4 million and subsequently another $2.6 million in March this year when the company issued more shares.

Universe chairman and managing director Daneil Lam says his company is investing 70% of that money into its core business in film production and video distribution.

Per Universe’s latest interim report, net profit from June to December 1999 was $3 million, a 92% increase over the same period in 1998.

Asian concentration

Company will continue to focus its business in Asia, in particular Hong Kong and China. “It is very time-consuming to co-produce with overseas film companies, especially Hollywood majors. The whole process could take years,” Lam told Daily Variety.

Shooting of its as-yet-untitled co-production with a mainland Chinese company will start in September. Toplining Hong Kong comedian Stephan Chiao and directed by Lee Lik-chi (“God of Cookery”), fantasy about a sports genius will be shot entirely on the mainland.

Universe entered the China market over a decade ago. Company has sublicensed rights of more than 500 films into China in the last few years. “The country has opened up over the last three years but the authorities have yet to allow foreign investors to directly involved in distribution,” Lam said.

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