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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
China bans foreign film imports
Shrek 2 will be one of the films affected
Chinese authorities have temporarily banned foreign films being shown in the country in an effort to protect the local film industry.

Films such as the Spider-Man sequel and Shrek 2 will be affected when the ban starts in July.

The film industry has been hit by a wave of pirated DVDs of Hollywood films selling for as little as $1 (60p).

The ban comes ahead of the release of the hotly-tipped Chinese film, the kung-fu movie House of Flying Daggers.

The ban will also take place in the middle of the country's school holidays.

Audiences appear to be more interested in watching Hollywood films than local movies. Foreign films have become more common since China became part of the World Trade Organisation in 2001.

$20m film

Zhou Tiedong, an import manager at the China Film Group agency confirmed the ban was in place.

Film distributor Huaxia Film Distribution said that it had been told to distribute only locally-made films at certain times, the Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post reported.

Director Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers, a kung-fu thriller that cost $20m (11.4m) to make, is expected to be one of the biggest Chinese films of the year.

Chinese moviegoers will have to wait until August before they can watch the films affected by the July ban.

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