The Chinese government hasgranted final approval to Warner Bros International Cinemas for its newmultiplex theatre in Shanghai. Called Paraside WarnerCinema City, the complexis a joint venture with Shanghai Paradise Co Ltd and Broadband Investment Ltd ofHong Kong.

The 1,490-seat, nine-screentheatre is scheduled to open on July 12 with the Chinese opening of TheMatrix Reloaded and will feature theWB logo as a prominent part of the design as well as the Looney Tunes animatedcharacters, marking the first time a US studio has been allowed to brand anin-country venue in China.

The final approval noticewas announced yesterday by the studio in a statement from Barry Meyer (chairmanand CEO, Warner Bros Entertainment), Alan Horn (president and COO, Warner BrosEntertainment) and Millard Ochs (president, Warner Bros International Cinemas)as well as Ren Zhonglun (president, Shanghai Film Group, the parent company ofShanghai Paradise) and Tong Weiming (of Broadband Investment Ltd).

"Paradise WarnerCinemaCity is a historic step toward bringing world-class quality films to Chineseaudiences and to realizing the untold potential of the Chinesemarketplace," said Meyer in the statement.

"Our venture withWarner Bros. is an integral part of the Shanghai Film Group's initiativeto transform Shanghai's film exhibition environment and maintainShanghai's position as the leading film market in China," said RenZhonglun. While Shanghai represents just 1% of China's population, itaccounts for 18% of the country's total theatrical box office returns.

The multiplex, located onthe top floor of the Grand Gateway shopping mall in the Xujiahui district ofShanghai, plans to screen both local and imported films. Indeed, a mural withinthe complex features US stars like Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable alongsidelocal stars Jackie Chan and Gong Li.

Warner and Shanghai Paradisefirst teamed up in 1992 when Shanghai Paradise assisted the studio in startinga dialogue with the central government regarding the import and distribution offoreign films. This led to the distribution agreement between Warner Bros andChina Film Group in 1994.

Shanghai Paradise controlsThe United Film Group, which operates 126 screens (about 75% of the totalscreens) in Shanghai.