Pirated movies undercut local cinema

The Apollo Cinemas has registered a large decline in ticket sales due to the unauthorised sale and rental and pirating of newly-released movies they have paid the rights to display exclusively. 

It has only been a week since the cinema opened its doors to customers since it was forced to close down due to state of emergency orders. 

This was in efforts to discourage people from gathering in public places as a precaution to the global pandemic.

But speaking to the Samoa Observer on Thursday, Apollo Cinema spokesperson, Auree Westerlund, said the illegal selling of pirated copies of newly released movies had been crippling for the business. 

Live-action movie ‘Mulan’, released 5 September, and ‘Fatima’, released in August, have been sold in D.V.D. video stores for some time, robbing the cinema of their exclusive rights to the titles. 

 "We've already told the Censor [Board] about that and I think they've already told the shops to stop selling it, and that was last week," she said.

"But we heard that some people went and bought some copy this week [and] they still have it. Because the thing is, they should get it three months after the cinema. Even with the release date, they cannot just go on and release it."

"It's really hard for us to reopen again when they just go online to download these movies, it's hard to compete with that."

Questions sent to the Chairman of the Censor Board under the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration Chief Executive Officer, Moliei Simi Vaai, were not responded to as of press time. 

Meanwhile, Ms. Westerlund said they had been told by their Censor Board contact that D.V.D. stores had been warned that their license will be revoked should they continue selling the movies illegally.

However, she is thankful for loyal customers who refused to buy the pirated copy of the movies available online and in video stores.

 Ms. Westerlund named a number of video stores as illegally renting out the movies. And the Samoa Observer discovered a copy of Mulan for rent on Thursday. 

It was not possible to get a copy from these video stores as of press time.

"Even if [Mulan] is released on the 5th of September, that is not the video store date, that's the release date of the movie theatre," she said.

"I know Mulan is not doing so well overseas because they sold it to the Disney Channel. That app does not work here, we've already tested the New Zealand and Australia one.

"So we would have still done well if it wasn't for the video store and pirated copies online. But most of the people that posted online that they were watching Mulan at home they were D.V.D. stores copy."





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