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Warner to Debut DVD in China to Curb Piracy

September 29, 2006|Claire Hoffman | Times Staff Writer

In another effort to stem rampant movie piracy in China, Warner Bros. Entertainment plans to release "Superman Returns" there Wednesday, two months ahead of its home video debut in the rest of the world.

The release, announced by the studio Thursday, coincides with the Chinese government's 100-Day Campaign Against Piracy, which has been going on since July.

"You have to go at the piracy problem with a business solution," said Mark Horak, executive vice president of Warner Home Video in Asia and Latin America. "It's not just by complaining about the inaction of the Chinese government -- it's about working with them for a viable solution."

Dubbed in Mandarin, DVDs of the movie are expected to sell for $1.77 to $2.78.

The Warner Bros. effort is part of a larger push to persuade Chinese consumers to choose legitimate DVDs over counterfeit street copies, many of which are taped in theaters using camcorders.

The studio said "Superman Returns" would be sold in more than 8,000 outlets, including stores that had stocked only counterfeit movies. Warner Bros. has set up a 75-employee office in Shanghai, in part to deal with such distribution issues.

Last year, Warner Bros. took an unprecedented move to combat Chinese piracy by releasing "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" on DVD in China the same day it opened in theaters in the U.S.

With Beijing set to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, China has faced mounting pressure to curb the practice of copying and selling movies illegally.

Some industry figures estimate that more than 90% of all copyrighted work sold in China is counterfeit.

Horak said the early and low-price DVD release of "Superman" is part of a multi-pronged effort that also includes the prosecution of retailers who sell pirated material.

As part of China's anti-piracy program, the government has conducted more than 670 raids on retailers who sell counterfeit DVDs since mid-July.

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