Former China Lion executive Milt Barlow has launched a North American distribution outfit, Asia Releasing, which will release Chinese production One Mile Above (Kora) on June 7.
In addition to Chinese titles, the new company plans to release films from other Asian territories, such as Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong, in the US and Canada.
Barlow explained that the company will target Asian-American audiences for these films, with Western audiences as a secondary market, and as far as possible open films day-and-date with their Asian release, especially mainstream titles.
“We’re looking at genre, arthouse and mainstream titles, along with films from first-time directors,” Barlow told Screendaily.
“We can offer producers and sales agents a theatrical platform in North America which can help trigger film sales in other territories. It’s early days but we’ve had a very positive reaction from producers across Asia in a short space of time. We aim to release around five to seven titles in the first year.”
Asia Releasing plans to release One Mile Above in cities with large Chinese communities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. The film’s sales agent, Odin’s Eye Entertainment, will handle ancillary distribution via its deal with Warner Bros Digital Distribution.
The film, which follows one man’s journey on bicycle to the highest point in Tibet to fulfil his brother’s last wish, screened in competition at the Tokyo International Film Festival and also played at Udine and Santa Barbara.
Barlow was a founder of China Lion, pioneering day-and-date releasing for Chinese titles in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and his native New Zealand. The company pacted with US multiplex chain AMC at the time of its launch.
Beijing-based studios Huayi Brothers and Bona Film Group later acquired stakes in the company, which is currently undergoing a restructuring. China Lion’s last release was Feng Xiaogang’s Back To 1942 in November 2012.