Hong Kong-based film studio Celestial Pictures has beengiven the go-ahead to launch its 24-hour Asian movie channel, Celestial Movies,into upscale hotels and residential compounds throughout the People's Republicof China.

The channel, which features contentfrom the Shaw Brothers library, Golden Harvest, Korea's Cinema Service andother Asian film studios, has already been launched in several Asianterritories and Australia. Launches are also being planned for Europe and NorthAmerica.

Celestial, a subsidiary of Malaysia's Astro All AsiaNetworks, describes the launch into hotels and compounds as the first move insecuring wider mainland Chinese distribution for the channel. The company alsoaims to secure carriage on mainland cable networks.

According to Celestial CEO William Pfeiffer, the launch isone of several initiatives that the company is undertaking in China: "Itearmarks Celestial's commitment to building their businesses in the country.It's only natural for Celestial's unparalleled Chinese movies and other contentto be brought into China," Pfeiffer said.

Celestial also recently appointed Hong Kong-basedIntercontinental Video and its China partners Kam & Ronson Enterprise Coand Truemart Audio & Video Co to distribute its Shaw Brothers titles onvideo in China. The partners plan to release around eight titles a month on VCDand DVD in China starting in October.