Pirate movies a growing pain

Jim Gianopoulos, co-chair of 20th Century Fox, one of Hollywood’s major production companies, who was in Greece for a meeting with executives from the European representatives of the company, also met with members of the press and shared his views on the film industry in general. A second-generation Greek born in New York, Gianopoulos was voted one of 2005’s Showmen of the Year by Variety magazine (along with Tom Rothman, the other co-president of Fox) for the quality of the studio’s productions and for the economic results he brought Fox. One of the main topics on the agenda of his meeting with Europe’s Fox representatives was the issue of piracy. «The biggest problem for the movie industry all around the world is piracy,» he said. «And this is equally a problem for bootleg DVDs and for illegal downloads of films from the Internet. «I wonder why the governments of the world do not do more about this problem. If in a market like Greece’s, half the DVDs are pirated, how are producers supposed to make more films? Studios like Fox do not go bankrupt from one day to the next, but our ability to help new artists and to offer the public more entertainment at the movie theater or at home becomes limited.» Piracy is still very prevalent despite certain measures that have been taken. What more is needed? «People must realize that a pirated video is illegal and that it does not just concern wholesale commerce,» said Gianopoulos. «In Greece, for example, losses exceed one-third of net profits and may even reach 50 percent. And it is not just us who lose these profits, but the entire cycle of production and commerce. «Unfortunately, Greece is notorious for being one of the most ‘pirate-prone’ countries in the world, along with Russia, Paraguay and Singapore. This is something that really bothers me. It’s like the time when Greece had all those pirate television stations and we were disgraced. As far as the government and its measures are concerned, fines are just not good enough, because they are seen as a mere business risk.» Gianopoulos says that the studios have come together to try combat the problem of piracy. «We have taken our measures too. In America, we have implemented stiffer fines for the illegal recordings with video cameras, but it is difficult to control a movie once it is being shown at theaters. As far as the Internet is concerned, we have developed new technologies that trick people trying to illegally download movies by showing just a few seconds of them and then nothing but a blank. Of course, the technology can be broken, so we are forced to keep up this technological war of resistance. In cooperation with most of the studios, we have created Movie Labs, a company specializing in developing these new technologies.» On a different note, Gianopoulos explained how contact with Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis about attracting foreign films to be shot in Greece has yet to yield any results. «I’m waiting to see what will happen,» he said. «We talked about a lot of things and I am waiting for results. Several countries around the world have given studios opportunities and incentives to shoot their movies there. Personally I have never been to Prague, but we shot two films there because they have good studios, legal and tax incentives, and good crews. I am waiting to see what measures will be announced by the [Greek] government. It is not enough that Greece has a nice climate and beautiful beaches.»