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Warner, Universal to Jointly Distribute Titles in China, Russia

27 Sep, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking to take a bite out of rampant DVD piracy in China — and to a lesser extent Russia — Warner Home Video (WHV) and Universal Pictures International (UPI) have agreed to distribute each other's titles in the two countries.

WHV, which has a longstanding relationship with China Audio Video (CAV), will distribute UPI home videos in China. UPI will distribute WHV titles in Russia.

“China and Russia are two expanding economies, and we hope by offering consumers high-quality, affordable product, we can take a bite out of piracy,” said Jim Cardwell, president of WHV.

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.

Beginning next month, CAV Warner will release 15 Universal titles, including Ray and The Interpreter followed by upwards of 30 titles every few months over the next three years. Warner currently has about 200 titles available at retail in more than 1,500 stores in China.

In June, WHV and CAV released The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants on DVD in China the same day as the film's theatrical release in the United States to thwart piracy.

UPI plans to distribute up to 20 new WHV titles, including Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in Russia through the end of the year.

“The Russian market is a very challenging one,” said Philippe Cardon, EVP and GM of WHV for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our partnership with UPI will strengthen our ability to turn this territory into an important growth market.”

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