Major Korean exhibitor CJCGV is forming a joint venture company with Chinese state-owned studio ShanghaiFilm Group (SFG) to build multiplexes in China.

CJ CGV announced the dealwas signed by its chief executive Park Dong-ho and SFG president Ren Zhonglun yesterday(Feb 14) in Shanghai. The joint venture will be called Shangying CGV.

The first multiplex underthe partnership, the Shanghai CGV, will open this September in the deluxegovernment-funded Daning Commercial and Cultural Centre which is to open bymid-2006.

A second Beijing multiplex is to follow next year with more plannedfor "university and stadium areas with convenient transportation in majorcities". CJ CGV and SFG will work together on everything from theatreconstruction to financing and management of the multiplexes.

However, the partners werekeeping tight-lipped on the size of the shareholding that CGV would hold in thejoint venture company. China is currently drafting new rules on foreign ownershipof cinemas.

The China deal comes on the heels of a CJ CGV announcementearlier this month to open a three-screen, 650-seat cinema in Los Angeles by June 2007. CGV currently has 266 screens inmultiplexes across Korea.

Shanghai Film Group is alsopartnered with Warner Bros International Cinemas (WBIC) in multiplex development.One of its subsidiaries, Shanghai Paradise, co-owns the Paradise Warner Cinema Citywith WBIC in a shopping mall in Shanghai.

In addition SFG's cinemachain, Shanghai United Circuit, has a joint venture with WBIC to build tenmultiplexes of which two have so far opened. In 2005, SFG's exhibition sectorwas reported to have 78 theaters with 241 screens.

CJ CGV established officesin Beijing last year to carry out research and find partnersfor entry into the China market.