Beijing-based film distributor Avrio Films has been acquired by Harbin-based real estate and commerce group, Songlei Group Corporation, and renamed Songlei Avrio Films.

Avrio founder and president Johnny Liu remains the president of the new company. Apart from its existing film distribution business, Songlei Avrio Films also plans to enter film and TV production, according to Liu.

Established in 1989 in Harbin City, Songlei Group owns shopping malls, real estate companies, a high school and a transportation management company. In 2005, Songlei entered the media business, producing several TV programmes and established Butterflies Musical Troupe. The group has so far produced two original repertoires.

'With the investment from Songlei, we plan to produce three films and two TV dramas a year,' Liu said, adding that animation will be the main film genre because of Avrio's past experience in marketing foreign animation films.

The Chinese regulation allows state-owned China Film Group to be the sole company to import and distribute foreign films. Avrio has been assisting China Film Group in selecting, marketing and distributing product since 2005.

Films handled by Avrio include UK animation Valiant, Alejandro Inarritu's Babel and Corey Yuen's Dead Or Alive.

In 2008, Avrio plans to help release Korean studio Showbox's D-War, Walden Media's Bridge To Terabithia and Summit 's Step Up. Avrio has recently reached an agreement to handle The Weinstein Company's action adventure Rogue and HandMade Films' animation Planet 51, which are scheduled for the latter half of 2008 or early 2009.