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Shaw Brothers - History

The 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.