Warner Bros has set a release date for its worldwide blockbuster Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone in China. The film will open in advance of the Chinese New Year on Jan 31 and continue to play through the Chinese New Year holiday period (Feb 12-18), a period which has traditionally been reserved for the release of Chinese films. Warner hopes to open the film on approximately 1,200 screens in China.

Since the revenue-sharing importation of Hollywood movies to China began in 1994 with Warner's The Fugitive, China Film Import & Export Corporation, the country's sole film importer, has on average released 10 foreign films per year on a revenue-sharing basis.

"As a result of the lengthy and demanding clearance process, such films typically do not appear in theatres in China until long after their US domestic release," said Ellen Eliasoph, who heads up Warner Bros. Pictures' theatrical distribution arm in the People's Republic of China. "In the case of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we took special steps to present a subtitled print to China Film prior to the film's release in the US and the favour was reciprocated - approval was granted and the release dated very quickly following submission."