Star Chinese Movies (SCM) is partnering with Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP) to launch a local-language production initiative, Go Local!, starting with five movies produced by Hong Kong actor-producer Chapman To.

SCM and EMP will finance the projects 50:50 with EMP handling international sales and SCM responsible for worldwide TV and new media rights. EMP will also handle theatrical distribution in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The new initiative aims to create stories that are relevant to local audiences. In the early stages it will nurture Hong Kong talent, but will later finance films from the Greater China region and beyond.

“We’ve noticed a deep appreciation for local content in all our Asian markets but particularly in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” said Ward L. Platt, president - Asia Pacific & Middle East of SCM parent Fox International Channels (FIC).

“There’s a need for more first-run local content, which will bring value to the audience for sure, but also messages our commitment to the market here.”

SCM already has an output deal with EMP for its Chinese-language movies. Films under the Go Local! initiative will be more tightly focused on specific Chinese-speaking markets - for example Hong Kong films for Hong Kong audiences and Taiwanese films for Taiwan.

The first tranche of films, produced under To’s Hong Kong Films banner, are expected to be in the HK$5-6m budget range across a variety of genres. To has previously produced films such as Pang Ho Cheung’s Isabella and Heiward Mak’s Diva.

The initiative is separate to Fox International Productions (FIP)’s local-language production efforts, which tend to focus on bigger-budget films for the wider Chinese-speaking audience.