Theater operators against tax to fund film industry

SUBSIDIZING TALENT::The minister of culture said that revenue from a 5 percent tax on movie tickets would be used to support the domestic film industry

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Oct 11, 2013 - Page 3

The Ministry of Culture’s proposal to introduce a 5 percent tax on movie tickets to help develop the domestic film industry has been met with opposition from movie theather operators.

In a proposed amendment to the Motion Picture Act (電影法), the ministry said the government should establish a fund to subsidize the development of the local film industry.

The funds would come from a variety of sources, including a 5 percent tax on all movie tickets, the draft article states.

Other countries have adopted a similar approach, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said in a meeting on Wednesday with local filmmakers and representatives of film trade associations to seek their opinions on the proposal.

In France, for example, there is an 11 percent tax on movie tickets that is used to subsidize the country’s film industry, Lung said.

If Taiwan adopts a 5 percent tax, the revenue would be used to provide subsidies for filmmakers and screenwriters, she said. This would encourage more local productions and boost Taiwan’s film industry, she said.

The percentage of locally produced films is quite low (17.46 percent) compared with Japan, where domestic films make up 54.96 percent of the market, or China with 53.6 percent and South Korea 50.31 percent, Lung said.

Film trade associations representatives have voiced their opposition to the ministry’s proposal, saying it will scare away moviegoers.

“The theaters will be forced to raise ticket prices, passing on the 5 percent tax to consumers,” said Michael Liao (廖治德), chairman of a film and drama trade association in New Taipei City (新北市).

Liao, who is also chairman of Showtime Cinemas, said that despite rising utility costs, his movie theaters have not raised ticket prices in the past 10 years for fear of losing customers.

Taiwanese director Wang Shau-di (王小棣) proposed a 3 percent tax on tickets and suggested an exemption of the remaining 2 percent tax for movie theaters that hold promotional events for Taiwanese films.

Lung said she knows the proposal may encounter resistance, but it is a necessary measure to ensure long-term growth of the domestic film industry.