Hollywood studio urges more film imports by China

09:20, December 25, 2009      

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A top Hollywood studio head has expressed hope that China will allow more foreign films into the country, as the move would benefit both domestic and foreign filmmakers.

"We would prefer to be able to bring more movies to the market," James Gianopulos, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment, told China Daily.

"It makes sense to allow people to have access to the legal products, rather than seeing films in pirated form. And, piracy doesn't just steal from us, it steals from the government and the economy of countries like China it doesn't benefit anyone," he said.

Gianopulos was in Beijing to promote Avatar, the studio's latest sci-fi extravaganza that will premiere in China on Jan 4.

Gianopulos' statement comes close on the heels of the World Trade Organizationturning down a Chinese appeal and upholding on Monday its earlier ruling against Chinese regulations on the import and distribution of books and audio-visual products.

It said the Chinese regulations failed to comply with world trade rules.

China expressed its regret over the ruling the next day.

"China has conscientiously carried out its obligations under WTO rules in terms of access to the publishing market since its entry into the WTO," Yao Jian, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said on the ministry's official website.

"China regrets the appeal panel ruling. China believes that cultural goods combine commercial and cultural value, and should be managed in a different way than other products."

China imports 20 foreign films a year for theatrical release. The ruling, however, does not force China to let in products it thinks are harmful to public morals, which means the 20-film quota stays.

Over the past five years, the country's box office revenue has grown by 20 percent annually, touching $630 million last year.

US blockbusters, such as Titanic and Transformers, have been among the highest grossers ever in China, but local films too have become competitive, contributing 60 percent to the revenue last year.

Gianopulos said more local films would boost the whole market, rather than shrinking the space for foreign films.

"Local films encourage people to enjoy going to the movies, and when people go to the movies, more theaters are built and more movies are made," he said.

"When people get into the habit of enjoying films, sometimes it would be a local film that will top the box office receipts, sometimes, fortunately, it will be our films, but what's important is for people to have the opportunity to see films and to like the habit of going to the movies."

Avatar, directed by James Cameron, is a sci-fi fantasy featuring the latest 3-D technologies.

It will be screened here in both the 2-D and 3-D versions.

Source: China Daily
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