Hong Kong studio Emperor Motion Pictures is joining forces with Hong Kong-based exhibitor UA Cinemas to invest in and operate cinemas in mainland China.

The first Emperor UA Cinema is scheduled to open in the Nanhai VivoCity shopping mall in the city of Foshan in early 2014. The state-of-the art multiplex will have 12 screens and 1,500 seats.

UA Cinemas set up the first ever modern multiplex in Hong Kong in 1985 and ventured into the mainland in the 1990s, operating under the Studio City Cinemas brand, with theatres in Shanghai, Wuhan and Chongqing. More recently it opened cinemas in Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

EMP, one of Hong Kong’s leading film investment and distribution companies, already has a distribution partnership with UA Cinemas, that has acquired films such as Departures, The Hunger Games and Japanese drama Confessions for distribution in Hong Kong.

Following the Nanhai Vivocity theatre, Emperor UA Cinemas will target suitable sites in the cities of Foshan, Dongguan, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Chongqing and Shanghai. Under the CEPA trade agreement, Hong Kong companies are allowed to own 100% of cinema projects in mainland China.