In a Bind, Govt Begs Hollywood For Films

The Jakarta Globe

In a Bind, Govt Begs Hollywood For Films

Underscoring the fact that the ball was no longer in its court, the government said on Friday that it had asked the Motion Picture Association of America to resume sending films to Indonesia.

“I met with US government representatives three days ago to discuss the import of films from MPAA,” Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said on Friday.

“We have clarified that Indonesia has nothing against the American government, exporters or producers.”

Films from MPAA members — which include Disney, Paramount, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. — have not been screened in the country since Feb. 17 as a royalty dispute prompted a foreign-film boycott.

The MPAA’s international counterpart, the MPA, had said the decision to include royalties in its import-tax calculation had a “detrimental impact on the cost of bringing a film into Indonesia.”

Last month, the Finance Ministry announced a new scheme that would see importers pay only a “specific tax” on movies, rather than an ad valorem tax, which was based on each film’s ticket sales.

The measure was meant to resolve the dispute and head off the drastic slump in ticket sales since the Hollywood film boycott started.

With two of three accredited film importers refusing to settle unpaid royalties totaling Rp 22 billion ($2.6 million) and locked in a court battle with the state, though, Agus said one recourse was for the MPAA to seek other domestic distributors.

The third company, which deals mainly with small and independent films, has paid Rp 9 billion in back taxes.

Agus said he had set up a special team under the Directorate General of Customs to spearhead the initiative. The directorate has granted a new foreign-film importing license to Omega Film and is considering requests from five other importers.

“There are other importers to work with,” Agus said. “If that can be realized, it will make Indonesians happy and American producers will see good growth.”

Likewise, Ukus Kuswara, a Culture and Tourism Ministry official, said the state should help other import firms to forge deals with Hollywood companies.

“We are helping importers establish [links] and hopefully make agreements with major studios,” he said.

Nine importers are allowed to bring in films, but most of those only distribute second-rate movies.

Elisabeth Oktofani& Dion Bisara

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