Warner Bros International Cinemas (WBIC), the international cinema division of Warner Bros, and Chinese government-owned Shanghai Film Group (SFG), announced today that SFG will take over two WBIC Cinemas in Shanghai and Nanjing.

Both cinemas were joint projects of WBIC and SFG. Before today's deal, WBIC with its partner SZITIC Commercial, had sold three other cinemas to China Film Group.

The equity transfer agreement was signed by SFG and WBIC on Feb 12. SFG will buy WB's 49% interest in Shanghai Paradise-Warner Cinema City and 51% in Nanjing SFG -Warner Cinema City. Before this pact, SFG held 51% share in the Shanghai cinema and 49% in the Nanjing cinema.

The agreement is still pending to the approval of the Chinese government, and the process is expected to take 60 working days.

In November 2006, WBIC announced that it would stop investment in the mainland China cinema market, due to a regulatory change that prevents foreign companies from owning majority stakes in Chinese cinemas. Six cinemas that were part-owned by WBIC were affected by the withdrawal.

'We believe that as a leading player in China film industry, Shanghai Film Group's experience in cinema operation will help to achieve a smooth hand-over, and ensure that the cinemas keep their service standards and continue to provide improved consumer movie experience,' said Millard Ochs, president of WBIC.

'WBIC has achieved great success in the past years. We will do our best to continue developing the Chinese cinema market,' added Ren Zhonglun, president of SFG.

After the hand-over, all Warner Bros logos and other intellectual property will be removed from the cinemas, which will also no longer carry the Warner Bros name.

Meanwhile, the three WBIC cinemas previously sold to China Film Group are now jointly operated by China Film and Time Antaeus Group, with China Film owning the majority stakes. The three cinemas, together with four existing cinemas owned by Time Antaeus are now part of the 'Fun Movie Station' cinema chain.