Five major cinema circuits in China have established an alliance, tentatively titled the Chinese Film Union, which aims to select 50 screens across the country to exclusively show Chinese-language films.

The five circuits are Beijing-based New Film Association, Shanghai United Circuit, Stellar Megamedia Circuit, Wanda Cinema Circuit and China Film Southern Cinema Circuit. Together they account for around half of the box office revenue in China.

The alliance will select 50 screens from their operating cinemas to only show Chinese films. Beijing-based UME Huanxin cinema will be the first theatre to provide a screen for the initiative.

In addition, 12 screens in Guangdong and 10 in Shanghai have been selected, according to Zhao Jun, founder of the alliance and CEO of Guangdong Film Corporation. The rest of the screens will be decided by the end of the year.

'In multiplexes in China, it's normal to see the same blockbuster movies showing at many screens in a multiplex. The audience does not have diverse movies to see,' Zhao Jun said. 'Every year there are more than 200 local films being made, but only few of them get to be shown at major cinemas.'

He added that as many local films lack p&a funds, they are welcomed less by cinema owners.

'With the 50 exclusive screens in well-known major cinemas, many local Chinese films can keep the cost of film prints down to 50 prints, while enjoying better publicity due to these well-known cinemas,' Zhao Jun said.

'The exclusive screens ensure a promotional network in China 's three biggest movie-going cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as second-tier cities.'

CFU will start operating at the beginning of 2008. The alliance plans to select mid-budget local films ($1m-$3m) with good market potential and aims to show 60 local films a year.

CFU is endorsed by China 's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and is seen by the industry as another protective measure for local Chinese films.

Every year, there are two to three 'Local Film Protection Month' periods (also known as black-outs) blocking new releases of Hollywood blockbusters, which usually take place in summer and during the Christmas seasons.