Chinese film officials have unveiled details of the territory's long-awaited second distributor, Huaxia Film Distribution Company, which is designed to break China Film Group Corp's monopoly on the distribution of imported films.

The new company will be launched next week and start distributing movies next month, according to the China Daily newspaper.

As expected, China Film Group and China Media Group - the umbrella company for all of China's state-owned media entities - both hold stakes in the new company. China Media Group is the largest single shareholder with a 20% stake, while China Film Group holds a further 11%.

Shanghai Film Group, which has lobbied for many years for the right to distribute foreign films, has an 11% stake while another powerful provincial studio group, Changchun Film Group, holds 10%.

China Film Import and Export Corporation remains China's sole film importer.

In its first year of operation, Huaxia will handle half of the 20 revenue-sharing movies that China imports each year. In following years, the split between Huaxia and China Film Group will depend on their relative success in distributing domestic films.

The new company was first mooted at the beginning of last year but its launch was delayed as China Film Group and the provincial film studios jockeyed for position.

Meanwhile, Beijing cinemas have finally reopened following a seven-week closure due to fears about the spread of SARS. Among the Hollywood imports scheduled for release in coming weeks are Daredevil (June 20), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (June 27) and The Matrix Reloaded (July 18).