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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        19  February 2011

New Indo levy on foreign films

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Importation of foreign films into Indonesia has been halted and will only resume if the government revokes a new levy on imported films, the spokesman of 21 Cineplex has warned.

Noorca Masardi said that 21, Indonesia’s largest movie theater chain with 500 screens, would only continue to screen foreign films that were already showing.

“[After this], we will not be able to screen any more imported films until the customs department changes its policy on film distribution in Indonesia,” he said, adding that this applies not only to movies from the United States but also Europe and Asia.

The Motion Picture Association on Thursday told journalists at a preview for “Black Swan” that the Oscar-nominated movie was likely the last foreign offering it would bring into this country because of the new levy on imported film distribution.

Noorca was quoted in other news venues as explaining that imported films already had to pay a 23.75 percent excise duty, a 10 percent tax to the central government and another 10-15 percent of the profit from ticket sales to regional governments. The new tax on distribution, he said, was also as much as 23.75 percent.

“There is no similar rule in any other country,” he later told media.

Government officials involved in the matter have repeatedly declined to provide details of the new levy, saying only that talks were ongoing.

Noorca warned of the effect the policy would have has on the nation’s theaters and viewers.

“Every year, cinemas screen 50 to 80 local titles and 100 to 150 foreign titles. If the government does not revoke this new policy, it will kill the cinema industry in Indonesia,” he said. “If no solution is found, Indonesian cinemas will close down one by one.”

Indonesia’s film industry has suffered a downturn in recent years. In 2009, six local films sold more than a million tickets each at the box office. In 2010, only one movie broke the million mark.

Last year, 81 Indonesian films had cinema releases, slightly down from 83 films in 2009, although a significant decline from 91 big-screen releases in 2008.

Members of the MPA include some of the biggest studios in the United States, including Walt Disney Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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