Hong Kong's first legal movie-download website, iCinema, was launched this month (November 2005) by Hong Kong Government-owned Cyberport.
Intercontinental Group is one of the major film distributors who have signed on for the iCinema service. Mr. Peter Young Tung-leung, Intercontinental's Director of Business Development, told reporters that the group was looking to release at least one new film through the service every month throughout 2006. He also mentioned that the focus would be more in independent films that may not necessarily get a theatrical release in Hong Kong.
Users of iCinema will have unlimited access to the films for two days after paying and downloading the file onto their computers. The files will be locked to prevent them from being burnt onto CD or DVD, or forwarded to other computer hard drives.
"The launch of iCinema is a reflection of Hong Kong's determination to rid piracy and uphold maximum intellectual property protection, which is very important in nurturing the creative industry. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council is pleased of Cyberport's joint effort with the Government in launching such an initiative," remarked Mr. Raymond Yip, Assistant Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Cyberport's Project Manager, Lindsay Chung Chun-wah, told reporters that iCinema's services is open to anyone to upload their content for protection and distribution, and the copyright owner can set the prices and other rules governing their content.
However, iCinema will be one of two players in legal movie downloads as Hong Kong's Mei Ah Entertainment Group launch its own legal download services in December 2005.
These local initiatives in curbing piracy and encouraging intellectual property protection will be a talking point at the upcoming FILMART, Hong Kong's annual trade platform where international film distributors, sales agents, film financiers, television stations, cable producers, animation experts and professionals in the business of entertainment converge for a 4-day market held from 20 - 23 March 2006. In 2006, FILMART will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary as Asia's World Market for Entertainment. Running alongside FILMART will be the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), a project market where commercially-viable and creative films created by Asia's most promising filmmakers are presented to an audience of financiers, buyers and distributors in hope of forming possible co-productions.
Both FILMART and HAF are part of the Entertainment Expo Hong Kong, Asia's multi-media extravaganza. Attracting the very best of international movie stars, directors and industry professionals, Entertainment Expo Hong Kong 2006 will span the period of 20 March - 19 April 2006, amalgamating film, digital entertainment, music and many more exciting programs. Details can be found by logging onto www.eexpohk.com.
(hkfilmart November 30, 2005)