Disney eyes access boost on mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2008, 12:00am

Disney productions could have unrivalled access to the mainland market despite annual quotas imposed on foreign films, under an agreement between the Walt Disney Company and the Shanghai municipal government, according to a news report.

Under the agreement, which is subject to approval by the central government, building a Disney theme park is only part of the deal. The package also includes showing films and cartoons on the mainland in the name of promoting the theme park to improve attendance.

Reuters said it had obtained documents from a presentation given by Shanghai city government officials at a meeting in April with local entrepreneurs and scholars who were then asked how to improve the plan.

Hong Kong film director Ng See-yuan, who runs a cinema chain on the mainland, said it was unlikely Disney would get its way.

'Beijing has tight control over films, as it regards them as cultural products which have a big impact on the people's ideology. That is why only 20 foreign films [a year] are allowed to get into the mainland.

'Meanwhile, as US films dominate the market, Beijing always tends to maintain a balance between US films and those from other countries. So it is very unlikely it will allow more US productions,' he said.

A spokeswoman for the Shanghai city government reiterated that final approval of the project rested with the central government.

Meanwhile, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said a pilot scheme to allow tourists from among Shenzhen's estimated 12 million migrants to visit Disneyland would be extended to other attractions if it was a success. 'The scheme is still at the early stage,' Mr Tsang said, 'There is a possibility that the scheme could be extended to other places [local attractions].'