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China's dream factory enters the home
( 2004-01-02 13:48) (Xinhua)

Changchun Movie Production Group Company (Changying), the oldest film firm of New China, Thursday launched a cable television movie channel, marking a strategic shift to attract more TV viewers.

The channel began with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", which won the best foreign movie academy award in 2002. "We really hope this famous film will bring more luck to our new channel," said Song Jiangbo, vice-general manager of the company.

It will be on air for 17 hours a day from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., broadcasting up to 1,600 movies and 12,000 minutes of cartoons a year. "There will be a variety of content to meet different demands of audience," said Song.

Founded in 1955 as the Chinese mainland's first film-making company, Changying is renowned for its classic films of war, rurallife and historical documentaries. During the golden era of Chinese film from the 1960s to 1980s, it produced scores of brilliant works such as "Guerrilla of the Plain", "Flowers of the Motherland", "Liusanjie", and "Visitors to the Ice Mountain".

Luo Yabiao, a retired 62-year-old living in Erdao District of Changchun, capital of northeastern Jilin Province, has been a filmbuff for over 40 years and is especially familiar with old Changying works. "The sensation that those movies created then wasthe same as that of today's imported Hollywood pictures, if not greater," he said.

"I can still remember clearly the past when we queued outside ticket offices on snowy days and the movies were a part of our lives," he said.

However, nowadays most people would rather watch a video at home and China has the highest rate of video entertainment machinepossession in the world.

The televised movie channel would offer more choice for audiences and for the film industry too, said Hu Zhenkun, chief director of the channel operation.

So far, the channel has attracted over 200 advertisers, including Pepsi, Buick and Rossini; all the earnings from the channel will be used for Changying film production, Hu said.

Under a plan of the State Administration of Broadcast, Film andTV, five major film-makers in Shanghai, Changchun, Xi'an, Chengdu and Guangzhou are permitted to operate provincial movie channels to generate funding for film production.

Senior movie critic Li Xiaosu said cinema and television had become complementary.

"It is the content, not form, that really counts and Chinese movie makers should do more to enhance their competitive edge because competition is rather tough in the entertainment field," he said.

China is gradually opening its cultural market since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 and will raise its annual imported movie quota from 10 to 50. Foreign capital will beallowed in the construction, renovation and operation of cinemas up to 49 percent of ownership. Distribution of video and audio products will be also open to foreign companies.

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