Finalising a recent memorandum of understanding on film businessdevelopment, Korean producer/distributor MK Pictures has signed with China'sEastern Dragon Film and Beijing Bona Culture Media International to partner ina multiplex development enterprise. The deal was signed on December 27 in Beijing.

The equity investments from the three partners totals $2.5m - MK Picturesinvesting 45%, Eastern DragonFilm 46%, and Beijing Bona Culture Media International 9%. Operations will incorporate Eastern Dragon Film's nine new screens in Chongqing.

The new company plans to take advantage of the real estate development armof Poly Group, parent company to Eastern Dragon, in expanding multiplex cinemasin urban areas. The first multiplex complex will be opened in Shenzen by the end of 2006.

The partnership will be hoping to benefit from the Chinese government's offer of no-interest loans for remodeling of alreadyexisting theaters,as well as subsidies and a tax-free policy towards newly built theaters.

MK Pictures announced a five-year goal for the new company to operate a total of 320 screens in 40 multiplex cinemas, culminating in a 35% market share of the Chineseexhibition sector. The new company aims to go public by 2010.

In a statement, MK Pictures referred to the multiplex deal as its firstimportant step in pursuing a goal to open up the closely controlled Chinesemarket, from which they hope to move into Asia.

The multiplex partnership deal follows another recent MK Pictures contract,with internet protocol TV service provider Zhejiang Huaying Media to become its exclusive Korean agent for video-on-demandand pay-per-view content.