Filmart 2012: Small Screen Looms Large On Day Two of Filmart

Dwindling DVD market and the rise of cable outlets throughout Asia leads to flurry of TV deals.


HONG KONG - IPTV and the growing number of cable channels in Asia are becoming increasingly important sales outlets for companies at Filmart, while the lack of 3D content available means titles in the format are in demand.

The collapse of the DVD/Blu-ray market in most territories has left studios increasingly reliant on theatrical revenues, but the new distribution platforms are beginning to compensate for at least some of the lost income from disc sales.

“More people are watching video through new technologies, such as iPads, smartphones and Internet TV. Filmart is going to see a shift toward becoming a market for content that will be consumed on these new devices,” said Gordon Cheung, president of Mega-Vision Project Distribution, and a 35-year industry veteran.

Cheung also suggested that the situation was difficult for mid-budget productions at the market, with the P&A for theatrical releases being prohibitively expensive. He sees the tentpole films continuing to thrive in theaters, while low-budget fare will be distributed through new media channels.

“There are so many new cable TV channels starting up in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea that there is a big demand for content,” reported Masaaki Saito, senior vp of CREi, a subsidiary of Japan’s TBS. “One Hong Kong telecoms company that we met with is launching five new free-to-air cable channels, and is planning to expand that to 30 channels within a year.”

“That company has also been experimenting with selling titles on DVD for the same price as pirated copies. They’ve found piracy was down 80 percent for those titles,” said Saito.

“Because of censorship issues that still exist around Asia, our non-pornographic erotic titles are attracting a lot of interest from cable and Internet platforms,” said Rena Kawazu, assistant manager at CREi. “We’re the only company that offers Hello Kitty to documentaries to soft porn.”

CREi, has sold martial arts film Kunoichi – Ninja Girl and erotic comedy Deco-Truck Gal Nami to Hong Kong, as well as an erotic anime, B Gata H Kei - Yamada’s First Time, to Korea.

“Japanese content is still expensive for many Asian buyers though, and the strong yen really doesn’t help. That’s one reason Korean content is popular, the weaker won makes it more competitive,” added Kawazu.

CJ Entertainment’s head of international sales and distribution Kini Kim reported that sales to Chinese Internet platforms were ticking up, though he noted that a lack of fast broadband access in some Asian territories was a barrier to development of the online market.

“Traffic at the market appears to be up on last year and there are also more U.S. sales companies here this year,” said Kim.

3D has become a “huge draw,” according to Vincent Tola, of America’s Vision Films. “People are interested in 3D for all formats, features, documentaries, TV specials. Since there's limited content available, buyers are very interested in what's out there.”

“We've signed deals with Thai companies, several in China, and a few from South Korea,” said Tola, declining to reveal the details of the deals. “We've sold the most into China. The DVD market in China is dead, but we're finally figuring out how to structure rights for new media and VOD rights. All of my deals here have been for TV and digital.”

Peter Reynolds of Plaid Bag Media from the U.S. said his company was also benefiting from the increased demand from China.

“There are definitely more buyers from Mainland China and South Korea. I've been busy since I got here. We have a few programs that are Chinese language shows produced in New York. I've been getting a lot of interest in these and I'm feeling pretty confident about them,” said Reynolds.

“It seems like a better market than last year. I've attended markets these past few years where it seems like there's a black cloud over the building. It's nice to be in a genuinely optimistic market,” he added.

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