U.S. films remain a hot ticket abroad


WASHINGTON -- American motion pictures continue to attract foreign audiences even as the image of the U.S. is tarnished by unpopular polices pushed by the government, according to the head of the studios' trade organization.

MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman told the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York on Tuesday that "there is no appreciable diminution" of the overseas appetite for U.S. films "even with the marginalization" of the American culture worldwide.

"People are able to separate our product from the politics in this country," he said.

Overseas sales of American motion pictures account for more than half of the overall sales the studios make every year, Glickman said, making the those markets more important than ever.

"People in other countries go to the movies for the same reasons as people do in this country, because they want to be entertained," he said.

The importance of foreign markets is being recognized by the studios not just for products made in the U.S. and exported, but also for joint ventures the American studios are forming across the globe.

"Through innovative partnerships and groundbreaking investment deals, the major motion picture studios are staying at the forefront of global commerce," Glickman said. "MPAA member studios are actively adapting their business models to meet today's international market trends and to provide consumers with a greater variety of entertainment options."

China, Russia, Brazil and India all represent opportunities for the studios, even as China and Russia are the biggest contributors to international piracy.

Filmmakers from "Hollywood to Bollywood" face a common enemy in copyright theft. Glickman said MPAA research shows that the worldwide motion picture industry including foreign and domestic producers, distributors, theaters, video stores and pay-per-view operators lost $18.2 billion in 2005 as a result of piracy.

To meet consumer demand and foster a legitimate marketplace, content creators must deliver high-quality, world-class product in a safe, hassle-free way.

"We want a marketplace that is responsive to the many ways consumers want to enjoy movies -- one that respects intellectual property rights and opens avenues for doing business and enjoying movies," he said.

India in particular represents a growing market for U.S. productions and partnerships with Indian producers.

"Half the people who go to movies in he world live in India," he said. "We view India as a significant opportunity."

This new "internationalization of film" is represented by productions like "The Kite Runner" which was filmed was filmed in China by American studios using Afghan actors, Glickman said.

"You're going to see more movies that star international figures," he said. "There's a growing appetite for films tailor-made for other cultures."