Flush with cash from a flotation on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM), Hong Kong distributor Panorama Entertainment is hoping to increase its share of the local theatrical market by doubling its slate to around 16 pictures a year.

The newly-listed company has recently embarked on a spending spree, snapping up all rights to several medium-to-large budget titles including Intermedia' s Basic, by John McTiernan starring John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson, and Lakeshore International's The Human Stain, starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.

The company has also acquired South Korean boxing drama Champion, directed by Kwak Kyung-taek, which it plans to release on around 15 screens in October.

"We had theatrical ambitions when we launched 10 years ago, but ended up focusing on the video market," said Panorama acquisitions and development executive Gigi Ko. "We now feel we have the capital and human resources which are necessary to expand our theatrical slate."

Panorama currently handles around six to eight theatrical releases a year, with a focus on small-to-medium budget US and European fare. According to Ko, the company aims to increase this to around six to eight high-profile, big-budget films a year, along with at least 10 smaller, arthouse titles.

The company raised $4.2m (HK$33m) when it floated on the GEM in May and has since signed a deal with Japan's Shochiku giving it exclusive video rights to the studio's back catalogue of around 4,000 films (Screendaily.com, June 28).

Other recent theatrical acquisitions include Jeepers Creepers 2, from Myriad Pictures, and Japanese title, All About Lily Chou Chou, from Fortissimo Film Sales. The company has booked a six-month block at one of Hong Kong's two art cinemas, Cine-Art House, to release a series of arthouse films.