Celestian reaches for star status

Channel to launch in U.S., Miramax pact to redo Shaw pix

Marching toward its goal of becoming an Asian-based powerhouse in production, distribution and broadcasting, Celestial Pictures has inked deals in French-speaking markets, China and Japan for the re-release theatrically and on DVD/video of titles from the giant Shaw Bros. Library.

The Hong Kong-based company also confirmed that its Celestial Movies channel, currently available in a handful of Asian markets, will launch soon in the U.S. via satellite and on cable.

Celestial also foreshadowed deals with Miramax for English-lingo remakes of two classic Shaw films. (Miramax has theatrical and vid rights in North America and English-speaking markets to the Shaw library).

Wild Side Films has taken French-lingo rights to the Shaw catalog, which will result in the release of more than 40 titles on DVD (and a theatrical airing in some cases) in the next five years.

Deal was confirmed Friday by Celestial CEO William Pfeiffer and Wild Side topper Manuel Chiche.

Pfeiffer said he aims to close pacts with distribs in Germany, Spain and Italy by the end of the market here. He plans to disclose Celestial’s partners in China and Japan in the next few days.

Owned by a Malaysian conglom, Celestial intends to launch its Chinese-lingo Celestial Movies channel in Hong Kong and Taiwan later this year, followed by Japan and South Korea.

Celestial has applied to get carriage of the channel in mainland China and is awaiting approval from the authorities.

Pfeiffer said he’s talking to Quentin Tarantino, a Chinese martial-arts-movie buff, about hosting films on Celestial Movies.

Celestial owns rights to 760 Shaw films, augmented by 15 pictures that it’s either produced or acquired.

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