Asia's entertainment biz: politics as usual

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Related: Asia going global by getting local

HONG KONG -- Once again, politics played a big role this year in Asia's entertainment business.

The U.S. decision to take China to task at the World Trade Organization over access to its entertainment and media markets was potentially an ugly collision between economic superpowers that have interlocking interests.

The WTO ruling has largely gone in Hollywood's favor. Although China might still appeal against the decision, there is now talk of the import quotas being relaxed in 2012.

The date is nicely ironic. Sony's "2012" appears to have been given a mainland release untouched by the usual end-of-year "blackout period," when Chinese films are given priority access to screens, and as such, it has ridden to new boxoffice heights. Presumably, it earned its reward by being the first Hollywood film in which China saves the world.

If Chinese-made films continue their upward trajectory, they will have little to fear from Hollywood, just as Korean pics appear to have ridden the shock of having their screen quotas regime halved about three years ago -- though that deal still rankles as the U.S. has not ratified the free trade deal for which they were traded.

Indeed, like Disney -- which has been given the green light to go ahead with a theme park in Shanghai as well as expansion of its existing park in Hong Kong -- Hollywood's studios are likely to seek ever-larger positions in Asia. And they're bringing their checkbooks with them.
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