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Warner Bows Early 'Sisterhood' DVD to Thwart Piracy

9 Jun, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The girls of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Seeking to take a bite out of rampant DVD piracy in China, Warner Home Video and distribution partner China Audio Video last week released Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on DVD in China the same day as the film's theatrical release in the United States.

It marked the first time a major U.S. studio has bowed a DVD day-and-date.

With more than 100 million DVD players in Chinese households, sales of DVD and VCD discs there are expected to exceed $1 billion this year. Numerous reports suggest upwards of 90 percent of all entertainment DVDs sold in China are pirated and obtained on the black market.

The studio reportedly chose Sisterhood because the film wasn't slated for theatrical release in China and because of the title's relatively quick approval by the Chinese government.

“We'll see how it goes,” said Pamela Godfrey, WHV's VP of worldwide publicity. “We won't do it on every title because a lot has to do with timing on how quickly we can get the certificate [from the Chinese government] to release it. The timing worked on this film, and it was the first title available for us to do this.”

WHV, which distributes more than 200 titles in China, including Troy, The Last Samurai and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, plans to release 100 catalog titles and new releases by the end of the year through more than 1,500 stores in China.

In another recent move to thwart piracy, the studio has released DVD product in China well below comparable suggested U.S. retail price to counter less-expensive black-market pricing.

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