HongKong's production and distribution companies are looking to the summer seasonto claw back market share after a disappointing first quarter of the year.

Thefirst quarter of 2005 saw only 14 local films released grossing $7m (HK$54.69m)between them, around 26% of total box office during this period. In comparison,over the last five years, Hong Kong movies have boasted a market share of40-47%.

However,the competitive summer season - a time when local films square off againstHollywood's tentpole releases - will witness a particularly fierce rivalry thisyear.

Incontrast to previous years, when one side usually had an advantage, both the USand local studios have strong line-ups over the coming months.

Mostof the US heavy hitters - such as Star Wars: Episode III, Batman Beginsand War Of The Worlds - are including Hong Kong in their globalday-and-date releases and although it's opening long after its US release,UIP's Madagascar is also expected to perform well.

Thelocal line-up includes four films with star wattage and budgets of at leastUS$10m. Media Asia's car-racing drama Initial D is first off the blocksat the end of June and will be followed by Tsui Hark's martial arts epic SevenSwords, Peter Chan's Shanghai-set musical Perhaps Love and Emperor'saction adventure The Myth, starring Jackie Chan.

Asif this is not enough to entice Hong Kong audiences, the summer schedule alsoincludes high-profile films from elsewhere in the region. Tom Yum Goong, thefollow-up to Thai blockbuster Ong-Bak, is tentatively scheduled for anAugust release through Edko Films and Golden Scene plans to release Koreandirector Hur Jin-ho's highly-anticipated April Snow in September.

Theindustry is optimistic about upcoming Hong Kong productions. "There's a lot ofmarketing activity around the summer releases and a feeling that we're rollingout the big guns," says Emperor Motion Pictures CEO Albert Lee.