China's Beijing PolyBona hasscheduled a June 23 theatrical release for Gerard Pires' Sky Fighters, one offour French titles recently acquired by the company which is stepping updistribution of foreign films.

The air force thriller willbe premiered at the upcoming Shanghai International Film Festival (June 17-25)before receiving a wide theatrical release across China on 200 prints and up to2,000 screens.

PolyBona is also lining upreleases for three other French titles - Merry Christmas, Brice de Nice andSecret Agents - acquired at the recent Hong Kong Filmart and are looking forfurther acquisitions here at Cannes.

Private Chinese companiesare now allowed to acquire non-US foreign titles, under a scheme being testedby the Chinese authorities, which they can release in tandem with China Filmand Huaxia (the two state-owned companies that are licensed to handle foreignfilms) under the banner "assisted promotion".

Titles are acquired on aflat-fee basis and are separate to China's annual quota of 20 revenue-sharingforeign films.

As a result, PolyBona isaiming to acquire Asian and European titles, including UK films, paying between$10,000-200,000 for all rights. It released Korean romantic thriller Daisyunder this scheme at the end of April. The film's star Jun Ji-hyun visitedChina to help with promotion and the film grossed RMB10m which is record inChina for a Korean film.

According to PolyBona CEO YuDong, the company works with local video distributors to stem piracy of foreignfilms: "We can protect the profits of foreign producers in the Chinamarket if they contact us early enough and ensure early delivery of theirfilms."