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Indonesians rally for foreign films

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JAKARTA, Indonesia » Indonesians are fighting to keep Hollywood films in local theaters after the Motion Picture Association of America warned that a new tax on foreign-made movies could lead to studios pulling out of the country.

Indonesian authorities see the tax as a way to protect the domestic film industry.

The MPAA has responded by saying that last week’s release of Oscar-nominated "Black Swan" could be the last for a Hollywood film in this nation of 237 million. Distributors from Europe and Asia have made similar warnings.

Film-lovers have taken to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to complain, while the country’s largest cinema chain begged yesterday for the government to drop the tax.

"We’ll see theaters close one by one unless a solution is found," warned Noorca Massardie, spokesman of 21 Cineplex, which has more than 500 screens.

Studios participating in the boycott include Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Universal Pictures, leaving Indonesian movie fans gasping.

They spend an estimated $6.2 million a month at theaters.

"It’s outrageous!" one woman wrote on Facebook. "They’re taking away our right to watch high-quality films."

Minister of Culture Jero Wacik said the tax will be reviewed — given the public outcry and concerns expressed by major theaters — with a final decision expected in two weeks.

He refused to provide details about the new tax hike.

 

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