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A panel of Hollywood power players discussed an array of shifts affecting the entertainment biz, particularly the growing importance of social media and the growth surge in China, India and the Middle East, at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit on Wednesday.

“The greatest power shift in media and entertainment is to the consumer who controls access and choice,” said Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment. “Our job is to make the best content available in as many places as possible and to get paid for it. Competing with free or stolen content is a very difficult business model.”

Entertainment attorney Skip Brittenham noted that social media and the Internet have fundamentally changed how people select which movies to see, creating a shift in the types of films being made.

“The studios are nervous as everything is now a meritocracy, so they are defaulting to what’s a known property. That’s why over one fifth of the movies being released this year — 27 movies — are sequels. The studios are going where they feel safe,” he said.

Panelists also discussed the challenges and opportunities in creating multiplatform content.

Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of WME Entertainment, said this was more important for the TV biz as “60% of TV viewing is with an iPad or secondary device and the commencement of interactivity and socialization is happening more on the TV side than the movie side.”

Emanuel added that the biggest threat facing the biz is still piracy, saying “the ISPs could control this and from our standpoint they are electing not to do it.”

The enormous opportunities in China, India, Asia and the Middle East were also much-discussed.

“The growth patterns on this side of the world are massive in terms of growth of box office and admissions,” said Imagenation Abu Dhabi chairman Mohammed Al Mubarak, who pointed out that the average local family goes to the cinema three times a week.

Brittenham looked to the phenomenal growth in China and India: “We have to understand their culture better and put movies in there that audiences want to see. We also need to encourage them to protect the aftermarket in China and India.”

News Corp. Europe and Asia CEO James Murdoch and helmer James Cameron opened the Abu Dhabi Media Summit on Tuesday.