Shaolin Soccer booted out of mainland

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2001, 12:00am

The smash hit film Shaolin Soccer has been banned from mainland cinemas after the SAR partners in the joint production reportedly opened it in Hong Kong without permission from mainland officials.

Zhou Jiandong, of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, confirmed yesterday the Stephen Chiau Sing-chi comedy could not be shown in mainland cinemas because its release in the SAR in early July was not legitimate, the Web site reported yesterday.

Mr Zhou said the ban was punishment for the film-makers' failure to fulfil contractual terms and first seek mainland approval before opening in Hong Kong.

The film was co-produced by local companies Universe International Holdings and Stars Overseas Film Limited, and the mainland's Zhujian Film Production Company.

Mr Zhou said the bureau would step up punishments amid an increase in the number of film companies breaching its regulations.

A spokeswoman for Universe International said it was unaware of the ban and would study the report. She said it was premature to conclude the ban would lead to financial losses on the movie, which has packed SAR cinemas.

Shaolin Soccer, reportedly made for $40 million, is the most successful local production ever. It had raked in $60 million by yesterday, 64 days after opening. 'The film has been doing very well at local cinemas and I would say we have made profits out of it,' the spokeswoman said.

The bureau also confirmed it had banned the mainland-made film Suzhou River, directed by Lou Ye, which won international awards last year, because it was an underground production and did not have official approval.