WarnerBros has signed an agreement with the state-owned Shenzhen International Trust& Investment Corp to open five joint venture cinemas in China, according tothe Xinhua news agency.

Warner Bros will hold a controlling 51% stake in the fivecinemas with the Shenzhen-based investment firm holding the rest. In additionto Shenzhen, the partners will build cinemas in four provincial capitals -Nanchang, Changsha, Zhengzhou and Chongqing. The first cinema under the dealwill open in May in Chongqing.

The deal is the fourth that Warner Bros has struck withChinese cinema developers in the past two years. The US major has also unveiledplans to build around 50 cinemas in joint ventures with the Shanghai UnitedCircuit, property developer Dalian Wanda Group and Guangzhou Jinyi Film and TVInvestment Co.

In Jan 2004, Warner Bros became the first Western exhibitorapproved to hold majority ownership in a Chinese cinema when it took a 51%stake in the Shangying Warner Cinema City in Nanjing. Shanghai United Circuitholds the remaining 49%.

Shenzhen, which was transformed into a Special Economic Zonein the 1980s, is directly over the mainland border from Hong Kong.