News / Asia

20th Century Fox Enters Burma Market

x
Danielle Bernstein
BANGKOK — U.S. film studio 20th Century Fox has announced its first official release in Burma since it withdrew from the country in the 1960s. Fox is one of the most recent American companies to re-engage with Burma after sanctions were loosened. What does it all mean for Burma’s cinema-goers and its local film industry?
 
Fox studios opening in Burma

The movie-going experience is the latest in a long list of things that are changing in Rangoon. 20th Century Fox has authorized the first official release of one of its films, Titanic 3D, to Mingalar Company, Burma's largest private film exhibitor that controls 80 percent of the domestic market with eight cinemas.
 
Fox withdrew from Burma after the coup in 1962, says 20th Century Fox International's senior vice president Sunder Kimatrai.
 
In the intervening years, copies of Hollywood films were frequently smuggled into the country from Thailand, and shown in theaters, including those owned by Mingalar. Kimatrai says the company is hoping to reverse that trend.
 
"We have an interest in protecting our intellectual property, it is after all our most valuable asset. As we do anywhere else, we do whatever we can to enforce our property rights," said Kimatrai. "And certainly in time that is something we would want to consider doing in Burma. Unauthorized screenings on the internet or in cinemas are a problem that we face around the world. In that regard Burma is no exception."
 
Fox has recently entered a number of frontier markets like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea. Kimatrai says the recent relaxation of sanctions made it seem that it was a good time to take advantage of the changes in Burma. Tickets will be selling for up to $3.50 (3,000 kyat), which is six times as much as a regular ticket price, but Kimatrai says he believes crowds are willing to pay for the higher quality projections.
 
Modernization

Mingalar Company has also recently invested upwards of $300,000 on new digital projection equipment, which Kimatrai says makes it easier to control the security of copyrighted materials.
 
Updating old projection equipment in Burma's cinemas could have a significant impact on the industry. William Bowling of the Asian Film Commission Network says Burma once had the most robust film industry in the region but local films crews have been technologically left behind.
 
"They're very thirsty and hungry for education and to build an industry now. They see themselves as coming out of the dark ages there and they need a lot of help. There are certainly people there interested in doing it. What are relatively low budget films really, and the paradox is they could have much more production value for their films if they would go over to digital format, but they haven't really done it," Bowling added.
 
In the past, Burma produced more than 100 films per year. Currently, the average budget for a Burmese film is around $100,000 and is completed within a few weeks or even days. Bowling says that the quality of the films is improving, as evidenced by the highly anticipated project currently underway, a biopic about General Aung San.
 
In downtown Rangoon still stands cinema row, the country’s densest concentration of stand-alone theaters, some dating back to the 1920s. But Philip Jablon, who writes a blog about cinemas in Southeast Asia, says those distinctive theaters are now threatened by modern multiplexes in the country’s new shopping malls.  

"We're losing street culture. Throughout the 20th century this is how people have generally spent their  leisure time. And they're at the street level where they were in communities that people can access not like in Bangkok for instance where everything is now dominated by multiplexes in shopping malls," Jablon stated.
 
Jablon says in their heyday, the theaters in downtown Rangoon were world-class, and showing international films from all over the world, as well as live performances. Now, there are plans to demolish most of them.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid