Universal Pictures International (UPI) will release summer tentpole The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor in China and Asia in late July one week before North America on Aug 1.

UPI chief David Kosse, who travelled to the US this week to give the keynote address at ShoWest, said the move was inspired by the film's Asian flavour and was designed to gain a foothold in Asian markets before the Beijing Olympic Games kick off on Aug 8. In addition, of course, it is designed to prevent any piracy in Asia from an earlier US release.

Brendan Fraser returns as the swashbuckling hero in the third Mummy instalment - and the first in seven years - which takes place in Shanghai in 1946 and also stars Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh.

Meanwhile leading Hollywood executives told ShoWest delegates yesterday [March 12] that while most summer tentpoles have already been set for 2009, a potential actors strike in several months would force them to revise schedules.

Paramount Pictures vice chairman Rob Moore told the Speaking Out panel at ShoWest that the studio generally released 16 to 18 films a year and would have to spread the slate more thinly across the year in the case of industrial action.

Sony Pictures Entertainment vice chairman Jeff Blake implied that a strike would have an impact because while most of next summer had been scheduled there were slots towards the end of the year that had not yet been filled.

On a related point, the commercial viability of every weekend of the year is not lost on the studios. Universal's president of worldwide marketing and distribution Adam Fogelson said that while the weekends immediately after Labor Day and Thanksgiving in the US were still problematic, 'there are at least 49 weekends out of 52 when you can do good business.'

In other ShoWest news:

Sony Electronics has set up a business unit to provide cinema owners with support for 4K CineAlta digital projection systems in the US. Michael Fidler will head the group in Los Angeles.

IMAX will incorporate Texas Instruments' DLP Cinema projector solution in its anticipated IMAX Digital projection system, which begins global deployment in mid-2008.

Cinemark Theatres will add more than 200 THX certified screens across the US, bringing the total number of Cinemark screens with THX certification to more than 500. Cinemark will roll out the THX certification programme in major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Denver.

Christie has signed an exclusive contract with Scrabble Entertainment to supply 200 Christie DLP Cinema projectors in what will be India's largest single digital cinema deployment. The first exhibitor to sign up for the deployment plan is PVR Cinemas, one of the sub-continent's largest cinema chains

Kodak will enable San Antonio-based exhibitor Santikos Theatres' conversion to digital technology. Kodak will act as a 'full solution integrator', providing a networked system with project management, installation and training and full service support. Installations have begun with the Palladium and the newly-opened Silverado Houston multiplexes and will continue until all screens have been converted.