One reason behind simultaneous release in China is to avoid piracy of the film which is a menace in the neighbouring country.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to know that Aamir Khan is all set to aggressively promote his next film Thugs of Hindostan in China, a market which was hard to enter but the actor’s films such as 3 Idiots, PK, Dangal and Secret Superstar not only earned strong box office collections but also gave a breakthrough to other Indian films in the neighbouring country.
Exuding confidence in the Chinese market, Yash Raj Films (YRF) has plans to release Thugs of Hindostan simultaneously in both India and China.
Khan’s grand promotional strategy for Thugs of Hindostan which is set for a release on November 7 this year involves China tour with the leading actors of the film and unveiling of a new song from Thugs of Hindostan, according to a Midday report.
YRF hopes the idea to simultaneously release to serve two purposes. One, to get a strong hold in the Chinese market and curbing piracy.
As the market for Aamir Khan films is growing in China, pirated versions of his films get uploaded as soon as they get released in India, impacting overall business of the film.
His previous films have also suffered from piracy. 3 Idiots was one of the most downloaded films among the college-goers in China.
The piracy menace in China
There are host of websites that offer pirated versions of films in China including Xunlei.com (now known as Kankan.com), Kuaibo.com, among others.
A 2013 report by Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) identified Yyets.com as another player involved in the piracy racket. This streaming portal hosted by China Unicom provides unauthorised Chinese subtitles for foreign movies and TV shows, many of which are created by volunteers in the Yyets community.
Apart from digital websites and peer-to-peer programs, the report also called the Sanlitun and Haidan districts of Beijing key locations in the distribution of counterfeit movies, and the Hailong Electronics Shopping Mall in Haidan is specifically described as a place where “hard drives can subsequently be wiped and reloaded with new movies at a very low cost.”
A 2007 study on piracy issue in China titled ‘Pirates and the Orient: China, Film Piracy, and Hollywood’ points out few reasons why the country suffers from beating piracy.
— Access, price, and quality all play a role in why Chinese consumers willingly contribute to film piracy's success.
— Chinese Restrictions on Foreign Films
China currently allows only 34 foreign films to be featured in Chinese theatres each year. In addition, foreign films are barred from cinemas during holidays and other peak periods.
Such restrictions are a tremendous ‘boon’ to film pirates, who essentially have a market monopoly on the restricted foreign films until the legitimate DVD release.
As a further constraint, each of the 34 foreign films must first undergo a lengthy review and censorship process, which often means the film will not be released until months after its debut in other countries.
These restrictions in turn encourage the average Chinese consumer to turn to the film piracy industry, which is unaffected by delays, quotas. Combination of these restrictive factors has led to a flourishing film piracy industry.
— Obstacles to a Beijing Crackdown on Film PiracyIn areas where piracy provides jobs and income to local residents and revenue to the local governments, local officials are reluctant to intervene, especially because the local administration can retaliate against them.