Shaw Brothers - History
seeds of this legendary Chinese film empire were sown in Shanghai
in the 1920’s by six enterprising brothers. Taking root
in then British Hong Kong in 1958 with the construction of the
largest privately-owned film studio in the world at the time,
the Shaw Brothers produced one thousand films (many of which
are now Chinese cinema classics) over the next three decades,
amassing the largest Chinese film library ever.
Recognizing from very early on the importance of vertical integration
(a strategy not afforded U.S. studios because of anti-trust
laws), Shaw Brothers acquired and developed cinemas throughout
Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia, North America, Hawaii and
Canada, establishing itself as by far the most dominant film
production, distribution and exhibition group in the entire
region. In the 1970’s, the size of the theatre group
exceeded 200 screens (with 600 more listed as having distribution
deals), boasting several grand 1000-seat plus flagship houses
in Hong Kong. The company listed on the Hong Kong Stock
Exchange in 1971. In 1974, for his professional achievement
and generous philanthropic worldwide contributions over several
decades, patriarch Run Run Shaw was knighted by Queen Elizabeth
II. In addition to its own output, Shaw Brothers released
international films, and invested in a number of co-productions,
most notably the classic Ridley Scott film, Bladerunner, starring
Harrison Ford, in 1982.
In 1973, Sir Run Run launched TVB, Hong Kong’s first wireless
commercial television station. By the 80’s,
Hong Kong real estate values were soaring to the stratosphere,
and many of the large Shaw cinemas were gradually converted
into other commercial uses. Sir Run Run grew TVB into
one of the top 5 television producers in the world, based on
output, and the world’s largest Chinese-language content
provider. In order to focus on its burgeoning television
activities, Shaw Brothers started to pull back on feature film
production in the mid 1980’s.
A New Era for Shaw Brothers
The new millennium also brings a new era to Shaw Brothers.
With little fanfare until now, the world’s most advanced
film production and digital post production facility is nearing
completion on a beautiful hillside site in Tseung Kwan O, Hong
Kong. The US$180 million Shaw Studios features one of
the largest, fully air-conditioned and sound and vibration-insulated
soundstages in Asia, a full-service color lab and digital imaging
facility, over 20 sound and editing suites, a 400-seat dubbing
and screening theatre, executive and production office space,
banquet hall facilities, and visual effects and animation capabilities.
In all, over a million square feet of digitally-wired and secure
facilities dedicated solely to film production and post-production.
To be operational by early 2007, and situated at the gateway
to China, potentially the world’s largest film market,
Shaw Studios is Sir Run Run’s commitment to filmmakers
in Hong Kong, and the entire world.
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