In an age of high-tech innovations and ever-expanding global markets, “Software is supreme,” according to Terry Semel, president and CEO of Warner Bros. Inc. The future, Semel believes, belongs to those “who hold the copyrights” for filmed, printed and recorded entertainment.

“As we approach the new millennium,” Semel said Friday at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, “we who are involved in the (film and television) industry can be sure of three things.

First, everything we now know to be true may change. Second, if and when it does change, it will change rapidly.

“And third, he who controls the software — the product — will be the winner.”

Semel made the comments as part of his keynote address for “A Motion Picture Centennial Celebration,” a two-day film symposium at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

In the address, Semel repeatedly emphasized his view that American-produced filmed entertainment will continue to dominate global marketplaces, no matter the medium.

Foreign-based film producers will continue to find it “very difficult to compete with us,” even in their own countries. “The world has, for better or worse, been trained to see (American-made) movies that have been dubbed” into other languages, Semel said. By contrast, foreign producers will be hard-pressed to penetrate the U.S. market because Americans “are not trained” to watch movies dubbed into English.

American producers and distributors also enjoy “an impossible advantage” because they have the financial resources to, in effect, buy “an awareness factor” for each new release, with huge marketing funds available.

Emphasizing the need for “an open playing field,” Semel expressed strong support for efforts by the Motion Picture Association of America to fight quotas in the ongoing GATT deliberations.

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