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Monday, June 19, 2006

Developing the Chinese movie market

Jim Puzzanghera and Mark Magnier of the LA Times had a good piece yesterday on piracy in China -- and how the movie business is trying to develop that country as a market.

Surprisingly, they say that today, the movie industry only earns in China about $67 million a year -- about what it earns in Switzerland.

From the Times piece:

    On Friday, in front of the Beijing Friendship Store a few blocks from the U.S. Embassy, a man carrying a black shoulder bag was working the street. The 35-year-old man, who would identify himself only by his family name, Li, said he had been doing this for six years. Even though "The Da Vinci Code" is no longer in theaters [in China], the man said, he sells five or six bootleg versions a day, making it his top seller.

    His DVDs generally go for the equivalent of 70 cents to $1.10, depending on how aggressively customers bargain. He said he earned about $120 a month.

    "If the police come, I can run away quickly," he said. "But it's all right now. The cops are all on lunch break."

    China had the highest piracy rate of any country in 2005, with 90% of potential revenue lost to copyright-violating DVDs, according to a study by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

    Although "The Da Vinci Code" was pulled from theaters, DVD versions remain widely available on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai. Along with costing Hollywood money — an estimated $244 million last year — the availability of cheap DVDs reduces pressure on the government to allow in more foreign films.


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