China Film Group chairman Han San Ping announced the state-owned conglomerate's intention to list on the Chinese stock market through an IPO, at the opening of the Beijing Screenings yesterday (Sep 18).

Han said the group was 'in talks with Asian financial institutions' about the listing which would enable it to raise 'better quality funding for Chinese productions'.

However he didn't give further details about timing or the amount of capital to be raised. A China Film spokesperson told Screendaily that 'the listing is in preparation' and there was nothing to add to Han's comments at this point.

A China Film Group listing was mooted three years ago, but was dropped when it didn't gain approval from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). Industry observers say the government has now given the greenlight to the move, which would help the state-owned group move towards becoming a fully commercial entity.

Among the group's aims is the upgrading of China's filmmaking technology and the ability to become a lead investor in blockbuster Chinese-language projects. Already the territory's leading distributor and exhibitor, China Film is also partnering with foreign studios on international productions and is currently building an ambitious new production base in the Beijing suburb of Huairou.

Han also announced China Film's upcoming slate which includes several 'da pian' or big-budget films such as John Woo's Red Cliff, Peter Ho-sun Chan's The Warlords and Stephen Chow's CJ7.

The group has been quietly positioning itself as a key player in large-scale Chinese projects by lining up private investors, in some cases several for one project, from the burgeoning ranks of domestic film production companies. Its aim is to create a string of home-grown blockbusters with international potential.

Among the films that China Film is co-financing and will distribute domestically are:

*Peter Ho-sun Chan's The Warlords, starring Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, which is co-produced with Hong Kong 's Media Asia and several mainland Chinese partners, and scheduled for release in December.

*Stephen Chow's CJ7, to which Sony has worldwide rights, which is being released across Asia during Chinese New Year (Feb 2008).

*Ning Hao's Silver Medallist, the sequel to his sleeper hit Crazy Stone, which is a co-production with Warner China Film and is aiming at release early next year.

*John Woo's Red Cliff, starring Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Lin Chiling, which is scheduled for release next summer.

*Chen Kaige's Mei Lanfang, a biopic of the Peking opera singer, co-produced with Huayi Brothers, Taiwan 's CMC and Hong Kong 's EMP which is currently shooting with Zhang Ziyi and Leon Lai heading the cast.

*Derek Yee's Shinjuku Incident, starring Jackie Chan, a co-production with Hong Kong 's JCE Movies which starts shooting before the end of this year.

*Peter Ho-sun Chan's Waiting based on Ha Jin's award-winning novel.

Organised by China Film Group, the four-day Beijing Screenings (Sep 18-21) presents recent Chinese productions to international distributors and festival programmers. Participants this year include Pretty Pictures' James Velaise, Jeremy Segay of Cannes ' Directors Fortnight, Fortissimo Films' Michael Werner and several US studio representatives.