No Harry Potter for Indonesia

By Michael Holtz
The Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian moviegoers are facing a bleak year of second-rate foreign releases and lowbrow local productions as Hollywood studios, the government, and movie importers remain locked in a protracted standoff.

It’s been four months since major Hollywood studios withdrew films from Indonesia, a nation of 237 million people, in opposition to a new levy on imported movies that was meant to protect local filmmakers.

The government earlier this month announced a revised tax it says will bring back Hollywood, but film buffs remain skeptical.

Another big hurdle must be overcome before blockbusters such as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” hit Indonesian theaters. The government has banned Indonesia’s largest film distributors from bringing in new Hollywood movies, pending their payment of more than $30 million in unpaid taxes and related penalties. The film importers are challenging that in court.

“Until I see actual [Hollywood] movies running in the cinemas, I won’t get my hopes up just yet,” said Marvel Sutantio, creator of the blog Indonesian Movie Crisis, which blames “greedy” tax and customs officials for the dearth of new releases.

Studios participating in the boycott include Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Universal Pictures, leaving Indonesian movie fans gasping. Normally, they spend an estimated $6.2 million a month, but local media report box-office takings are down 60 to 70 percent since February.

Studio representatives declined to comment on their negotiations with distributors and the Indonesian government.

Film buffs are making do with a handful of minor Hollywood releases and local productions that are widely derided for their low production values and limited number of themes. Moviegoers often complain about the influx of B-rated horror flicks that are light on character and plot development and heavy on cheap scares and frequent sex scenes. Japanese porn actresses are among the stars.

“Limitless,” released May 24 in Indonesia, is the newest Hollywood film showing at a movie theater in one of Jakarta’s high-end shopping malls. Its lobby, which once bustled with big crowds for midnight screenings, is as quiet as a morgue.

Other Hollywood films produced by smaller studios not participating in the film boycott include “Scream 4,” “Beastly,” and “Insidious” — not exactly the summer blockbusters Indonesian moviegoers had hoped for. A poster for “Kung-Fu Panda 2” announces it is “coming soon” despite the film’s release in other Southeast Asian countries in late May.

Mixed signals and delayed decisions from government officials have compounded the problem. The finance ministry failed to keep its initial promise of announcing a revised tax regime by mid-March. And movie lovers are still bitter at Syamsul Lussa, the film department director in the culture and tourism ministry, for attending the Cannes Film Festival in France last month instead of addressing the growing controversy at home.

Before the boycott, film buff David Kurmiabi went to theaters about once a week. He traveled to Singapore last month with his mother, who was receiving medical treatment there. He saw three movies in three days to get his fix.

“We feel abandoned,” said Kurmiabi, 39. “I just hope they will return very soon.”

Other film lovers have turned to the black market to see the latest Hollywood hits, making for a thriving trade for the dozens of vendors of pirated DVDs in Jakarta’s Chinatown.

Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo says the revised rules eliminate the disputed tax on the royalties paid by film distributors to the studios. Instead, there will be a tax of 21,000 to 22,000 rupiahs, about $2.50, per minute of film for each copy. The duty was previously based on the physical length of the film.

Martowardojo said while the new tax should be low enough for Hollywood studios to resume releasing their films in Indonesia, it would also help protect the domestic film industry.

The government opened a new front last week when Martowardojo announced a government plan to allow foreign studios to distribute movies themselves, rather than relying on local companies.

Film distribution in Indonesia is dominated by Group 21, whose affiliates import Hollywood films and which also owns Cineplex 21, Indonesia’s largest theater chain with more than 500 screens.

But it will be at least three months before legislation is introduced to Indonesia’s parliament.

“We’re going to miss the whole summer this year for sure with the way it’s going,” said Ananda Siregar, owner and CEO of Blitzmegaplex, the second-largest theater chain in Indonesia. ♦

22 Responses to “No Harry Potter for Indonesia”

  1. thisisme says:

    so what? whats the biggie? i can still download the movie :D

  2. vee says:

    Its definitely has 2 sides of d story…ind.govnt expects 21 to pay the prior delayed tax payment…which is 30mill$…then govnt can allow the movie import again…2nd the hollywood movie dist. Comp subjected d new tax rate/ duty that hv been renewed along with d banned regulation…
    So 1 problem follows d other…
    About indonesian movie being protected blablabla…they never been protected even before this regulation made public…they even had to pay the same duty for Indonesian movies won foreign movie festival, awards n such…
    Those regulation just for govn to get their tax money back n more to come in the future…if 21 had been paying the duty these problems would never come…maybe…
    Just pray n wait..haha

  3. Gerry says:

    Well, I don’t really understand who is to blame. It’s not my job to solve this problem,that’s what the government is for,though they suck in doing it LOL. If you guys in Indonesia want to watch Harry Potter 7 part 2 so BADLY,then I suggest you to go to Singapore or Malaysia to watch it LOL. At least, that’s what I’m planning when Harry Potter 7 part 2 is out of the market

  4. My name is Kenneth. Everyone knows me as a Harry Potter freak. And of course I agree with most of the people that the government will definitely get the blame of all this. I’m enrage by this outcome so as to say. This is just not fair. I mean this is our wants. We don’t need this but Hollywood movies are one of the many luxuries, we would like to have. This is our demands. If the government thinks just by raising the tax is going to solve the problem for the local movie makers, they’re absolutely wrong. Let me get this straight… Some of us don’t even watch Indonesian movies. We don’t give a **** about those movies. We only look to the Western movies. And cinemas like XXI provides that. When the government suddenly starts to raise the tax, then the movie imports are stopped right? Now these cinemas, don’t the government ever thinks that the cinemas are going to be affected as well? They make money out of the Western movies. Now, they can no longer provide us the services that we want. Lots of people are going to stop from coming to the cinemas. The cinemas will eventually get bankrupt and some of the people who work there will lose their jobs. Maybe that’s what the government wants. I’m just telling all of the bad possibilities here. Lots of people will get affected. I know I’m just a 15-years-old child which probably mean that my words won’t be heard, but trust me. If this is to be continued, Indonesia will eventually fall down. That’s all.

    P.S. If any of you who read this have a twitter, please sign this: http://twitition.com/zn497/ and spread it. Thanks.

  5. My name is Kenneth. Everyone knows me as a Harry Potter freak. And of course I agree with most of the people that the government will definitely get the blame of all this. I’m enrage by this outcome so as to say. This is just not fair. I mean this is our wants. We don’t need this but Hollywood movies are one of the many luxuries, we would like to have. This is our demands. If the government thinks just by raising the tax is going to solve the problem for the local movie makers, they’re absolutely wrong. Let me get this straight… Some of us don’t even watch Indonesian movies. We don’t give a **** about those movies. We only look to the Western movies. And cinemas like XXI provides that. When the government suddenly starts to raise the tax, then the movie imports are stopped right? Now these cinemas, don’t the government ever thinks that the cinemas are going to be affected as well? They make money out of the Western movies. Now, they can no longer provide us the services that we want. Lots of people are going to stop from coming to the cinemas. The cinemas will eventually get bankrupt and some of the people who work there will lose their jobs. Maybe that’s what the government wants. I’m just telling all of the bad possibilities here. Lots of people will get affected. I know I’m just a 15-years-old child which probably mean that my words won’t be heard, but trust me. If this is to be continued, Indonesia will eventually fall down. That’s all.

  6. Terra says:

    The govt. is a JERK!! Why would they increase the import tax?? What a Jerk!!

  7. lazione budy says:

    Whatever it takes, I dont care.
    I just wanna watch Good Movie in cinemas.
    Lucky you guys, outiside Jakarta.

  8. jimminybillybob says:

    Oh come one, seriously. It is obvious that it’s the govt fault.
    the govt is just trying to rake more money out of anyone’s throat.
    what the heck is a movie import tax?
    Trying to create a better condition for local movie makers?
    I haven’t heard ANY local movie makers who seemed to agree with this notion.

  9. lazione budy says:

    Hi, i am Indonesian. I really disappointed government. Almost hollywood movies is not show in my place. Its suck! Its really suck!
    Not only Harry Potter finale, I miss Transformer 3, Thor, Hangover 2, Cars 2,…

    I dont care bout the problem behind it, I just wanna watch it in Cinema.

  10. zrach says:

    Oh my goodness you guys, stop arguing/blaming it on one sole person/company/etc. I think it’s true that the government would get most of the blame because they were the ones who created the tax rule. I also think, as a movie fan myself, that the price of the tax is quite high and unfair and would definitely cause a protest from the movie studios. I do hope that the Indonesian government can negotiate well with these studios so that the tax rule could still exist, but at a more reasonable price to avoid a complete lack of imported films in Indonesia. In my opinion, eventhough the government aimed to protect local filmmakers by creating the tax rule, I think the tax rule actually backfired because it caused people to turn to black markets or the internet to buy/download pirated versions of movies. I just hope that this matter can be resolved soon so that good-quality foreign movies can finally be shown in Indonesia again.

  11. febs says:

    Yeah i agree with johnson, blabla you an idiot. You have to read the text first before you posting. One and only i want to say: INDONESIA WANT HARRY POTTER!!

  12. Shame Indonesia says:

    Indonesian do not need any Hollywood movie. In fact it doesn’t need any Arab culture at all. Shame of you losser who addicted of Western culture…and Arab culture……..

    Definition of ad·dict·ed:
    Physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.

    • blackrainbow says:

      read the text, smart-one. you’re talking nonsense.

      i wonder how arab culture can get involved in this matter.

    • harrypotter2011 says:

      you are really ignorant, aren’t you? please don’t make a fool out of yourself!

  13. blabla says:

    so who to blame, the gov? not really… it’s the film distributor fault! pay your tax!!!!

    • Flintstone says:

      Pay your tax, you say? Pay unfair tax? Better you make better movies so government doesn’t need to protect the local market. Bah!

    • jhonson says:

      You are wrong blabla :)
      Please read the news before posting, don’t let people know that
      you are an idiot.
      just Google it!

      Indonesia is The 1st Country in the world
      in the world who create Movie Import Tax.
      Yes, Indonesia Movie Import Tax, 1st in the World.

      • Gerry says:

        Indeed :p

      • Kud says:

        You should take your own advice, Google the complete information before judging other people an idiot.

        Other countries integrate those three tax components, and called them movie tax. It is internationally accepted and implemented all over the world.

        Indonesia split it into three, because the corresponding departments in charge is different.

        http://www.wto.org/gatt_docs/English/SULPDF/90280180.pdf

        I hope you are Indonesian, read this for your information.

        http://dimasind.blogspot.com/2011/03/mau-tau-apa-yang-sebenarnya-terjadi-di.html

        http://jakartass.net/2011/03/much-aduh-about-nothing-2/

        Next time, please learn to debate ethically, what you wrote reflect your intelligence. And now, your intelligence is not reflected well.

        • Emanuel says:

          Hi 2KM and 2KJ,When I was at Primary school, I loved maths and craft. I love nbuemrs and how they work with each other. I have always loved craft and creating things. When I went to Secondary school I still loved maths, but I also found Chemistry and Physics intriguing. These subjects help you understand how matter in the world interacts and why things happen as they do, I like to understand how things work.I hope you guys enjoy learning about science as much as I did, you are really lucky to have a wide range of subjects you learn while you are in Primary school, it gives you a much broader knowledge base for when you get to the next level, Secondary school.Enough from me now. Have a great day.Best Wishes Catharina.

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