Hong Kong's increasingly competitive distribution sector has a new player Deltamac (HK) Ltd, which will handle the Hong Kong theatrical release of The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers in January next year.

The decade-old video distributor, owned by Taiwanese disc manufacturer CMC Magnetics Corp, has quietly put together a theatrical department and plans to acquire eight - 12 big ticket independent movies a year. Its first theatrical title, Blade 2, rolls out in Hong Kong on September 5, and will be followed by Simone, starring Al Pacino, in mid-October.

The company will also handle the next two films in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. CMC owns Hong Kong rights to all three titles, but engaged the Hong Kong subsidiary of another Taiwanese company, Era, to handle the theatrical release of The Fellowship Of The Ring.

Hong Kong's theatrical distribution sector is becoming increasingly crowded with at least 12 companies acquiring independent product for a market of just seven million people. Lark International Holdings, which owns Hong Kong exhibitor UA Cinemas, launched a distribution arm, Lark Films Distribution, in February this year, while video distributor, Panorama Entertainment, unveiled plans to step up theatrical activity last month.

"We are aware that market conditions are tough but we have relationships with key suppliers such as Miramax and New Line through our parent company CMC," said Deltamac (HK) managing director, Clera Chu.

On the video side, Deltamac has exclusive deals with Fox and MGM, while the studiostheatrical distribution is handled by Bill Kong's Kentac. Fox recently moved its regional headquarters from Hong Kong to Tokyo, and Deltamac has hired Heidi Po, formerly Fox's regional marketing co-ordinator, to head up its theatrical arm. It has also boosted its video unit by hiring former Yes TV content manager, Charlene Lai, as senior labels manager.

Meanwhile, Lark Films Distribution has unveiled its debut theatrical slate which kicks off with Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending on September 19. The company has also acquired Deathwatch, starring Jamie Bell, The Man From Elysian Fields, with Andy Garcia, Nicolas Cage's directorial debut, Sonny, and Leopold starring Joseph Fiennes.