Asia digital venues screen out U.S. tech

Inferior projectors raise security concerns

BANGKOK — Digital screens are sprouting across Asia, but it’s not all good news for Hollywood. A number of d-cinemas, especially in India and China, use systems that don’t meet U.S. studios’ tech standards.

More than 100 screens have opened in India using inferior projectors that raise security concerns, Brooke Williams, head of Asian business development at Texas Instruments, told a seminar Tuesday at the CineAsia movie convention.

In China, 100 cinemas are being built in sparsely populated areas where multiplexes wouldn’t be viable using projectors based on DLP video and graphics projectors.

“This is controversial since China believes it can convince Hollywood to release movies on non-DCI-compliant systems,” Williams said, referring to the studios’ Digital Cinema Initiative. “Hollywood has resisted release of digital movies on anything but DLP cinema projectors.”

Quizzed about that issue, China Film Equipment Corp. prexy Frank Fu told Daily Variety, “These cinemas are being built. When they’re finished let’s see what can be done.”

Last year, the Indian B.O. racked up $910 million and Bollywood churned out 1,010 films, up from 855 pics in 2000, Indian post house Kalasa’s Ramesh Subramanian told the seminar.

Confab, which runs through Thursday at the Bangkok Convention Center, has attracted 330-345 attendees, up 10% on last year, according to CineAsia co-managing director Mitch Neuhauser.

At the trade show, 40 companies are exhibiting their wares at 80-85 booths, on par with 2003.

At a piracy seminar, Frank Rittman, Motion Picture Assn. director for the Asia/Pacific region, gave an upbeat progress report while stressing that much more needs to be done with governments, enforcement agencies and exhibs to combat the scourge.

He said 42 million illegal optical discs have been seized in the region in the first nine months of the year, compared with 43.8 million in all of 2003.

There have been 18,960 investigations through September, up from 15,492 for all of last year, and nearly 13,000 police raids (vs. 8,555 in 2003).

Illustrating the massive sums involved in piracy, a criminal in the U.K. can reap an 800% profit from selling DVDs imported from Malaysia vs. 420% from selling heroin.

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