Magazine article Variety

Hong Kong Pic Giant Adapts in Changes

Magazine article Variety

Hong Kong Pic Giant Adapts in Changes

Article excerpt

From a humble film and video distributor to one of the game-changers in the Asian film industry, Universe Entertainment Ltd, has witnessed three decades of ups and downs in Hong Kong and Chinese cinema.

Looking ahead, setting the stage for Hong Kong filmmakers in mainland China and overseas markets wilt he the among the top priorities for the company, which is facing a much more globalized film industry than it did 30 years ago when it was founded.

*The growth of the China market will continue; not only will there be more young local talent emerging and bringing hi new ideas, the cooperation between Chinese companies and filmmakers and their counterparts from the rest of the world wifi he more frequent," says Alvin Lam, general manager of Uni verse.

He says that as the world eyes the growth of China's film industry, exploring co-production opportunities and collaborative distribution plans between China and North America, it couid be the next big chance for Hong Kong filmmakers, who can be bridge between China and the rest of the world. "Hong Kong filmmakers shall embrace this opportunity' he says.

The story of Universe began in 198G when founder Daneil Lam Slimming established the company as a small-scale film and video distributor offering content in VHS and LaserDisc formats.

"In the 1930s and early *90s, the Hong Kong film industry flourished with the growth of theatrical and video markets,"says his brother,Alvin Lam.

The staggering demand for entertainment at the time brought good business to Universe, but it also propelled the growth of piracy. Universe then began to explore the mainland Chinese market, and in 1995 it started selling film rights to mainland distributors. The move not only helped the company establish a new distribution network in China, but also broadened the company's income base. In July 1999, Universe inti. Financial Holdings Ltd., which owns Universe Enter tainment Ltd., listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

It was also the time when Universe began investing in feature productions. The plan was initially to diversify the company's business, but with the wild success of Stephen Chow's 2001 action comedy "Shaolin Soccer," which raked in more than HKS60 million (S7. …

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