Fox Filmed Entertainment's Jim Gianopulos: 'Theft' Is the Film Industry's Biggest Problem

Gim Gianopulos

Co-Chairman and CEO, Fox Filmed Entertainment

The Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman is taking his message to Singapore and Shanghai.

SINGAPORE -- The biggest issue the global film industry faces is theft, said 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Jim Gianopulos.

“The fact that people are stealing from us makes me angry,” Gianopulos told The Hollywood Reporter at ScreenSingapore, not long before departing to take the same message to the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Gianopulos, the keynote speaker at the inaugural edition of ScreenSingapore’s Film Financing Forum, believed the international community should band together to fight against online piracy.

“As the local markets continue to expand, and new investments come into the entertainment sector, it’s imperative for governments and industry to find ways to protect that content, otherwise it can’t build value and it can’t return on its investments,” said Gianopulos.

“It’s very difficult to have a properly organized market when you're making things that cost you money and other people are taking it for free. So the starting point has to be a control over people’s ability to steal what you’ve made. The larger the investment, the larger the market and the greater the importance for that protection,” added the man who greenlit Avatar, which reportedly cost nearly $250 million and grossed $2.8 billion worldwide.

Fox has rolled out premium video-on-demand along with Warner Bros., Sony and Universal for digital rental 60 days after theatrical release.

“The reason that there are distribution windows in most of the world,” Gianopulos noted, “is that the investments of the theatre owners are quite substantial, so are the investments in marketing. In order for theatres to present movies in the way we all want to see them, on the big screen, huge auditorium, great sound and in 3D, that’s a very substantial investment. If you can have it for free, why would you want to spend the money to go to the theatre? So it’s very important for us to continue the support for the theatre infrastructure, to keep that market healthy.

“The starting point of the industries like Netflix and the legitimate economic activities that go with them is protecting content and preventing people from being able to steal from them. For markets that are highly regulated, like Singapore and China, the hope is that some of the issues can be brought under control,” Gianopulos said.

China is on the mind of the Fox chairman, who travelled to the Shanghai Film Festival after ScreenSingapore. The trip to Shanghai is meant to “experience this spectacular growth and to understand the issues better and share ideas with the local producers, industry and government. A better exchange of ideas that would hopefully leads to better understanding and mutual benefits,” Gianopulos said. Fox co-produced with Chinese major Huayi Brothers on Hot Summer Days, which broke 100 million yuan ($15.4 million) and the upcoming Love in Space. Gianopulos said Fox expects to expand the co-production partnerships with other companies as well.

Fox’s local strategy in China and India saw Hot Summer Days and My Name is Khan paying off for the company's local production strategy.

“What was interesting last year was our local production in China was the number one film in China on the same weekend our local film was the number one film in India. It was a coincidence but a very gratifying experience.  So we’d like to continue our local strategy in China, India and Russia and other markets around the world that has high quality local filmmaking talents, and an audience that is hungry for films that reflect their culture," he said.

“Asia is the two-thirds of the world’s population, there’s still an enormous potential for future growth.  It’s growing very rapidly in China, the box office in China has grown 40 percent in the past year, which is unprecedented. It’s a tremendous opportunity for future growth,” Gianopulos added.