Several months ago, the Indonesian government proposed a new tax on foreign film studios wishing to screen their films inside Indonesia. The proposed tax was to be in the form of a combined 23.75% excise and 10% income tax on top of the tax collected on ticket sales. This move drew the ire of Hollywood, as well as movie studios around the world, and prompted many of the leading American studios to form a boycott of the Indonesian market. These studios had been spending about $6.2 million per month in Indonesia. The move was made to protect the domestic film industry, an industry which has produced only 2,200 movies since the first one in 1926. By contrast, the US industry has produced 520 films in the most recent year, while the Indian industry (the most prolific in the world) has produced 1,325 (according to these guys). The tax was almost immediately called into question by citizens and lawmakers alike, the tax went into effect and the studios went ahead with their industry boycott. There’s a report now that Harry Potter has worked his magic in Indonesia and has served as vanguard in what may be a re-opening of the Indonesian movie market. Warner Brothers just couldn’t bring themselves to leave the country of 245 million people without the final chapter of “The Boy Who Lived” and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”. Indonesians may even get to see Transformers 3 and Kung Fu Panda 2 in theaters within the next couple of weeks.
As an aside, Indonesia is definitely on my bucket list of places to visit. It is the fourth most populous nation in the world (behind China, India, and the US) and is the most populous majority Muslim nation in the world (some 86% of Indonesians are Muslim). The first Europeans to reach Indonesia were the Dutch, who colonized the archipelago in the 17th century. Following nearly three centuries of Dutch rule, the Japanese invaded and colonized Indonesia during World War II. Following the war, the Dutch relinquished control of Indonesia back to Indonesians who suffered under a series of oppressive military regimes through the second half of the 20th century. Since 1999 however, there has been relative peace in Indonesia and tourism and industrial production now drive the economy. It’s history and geography have placed it at the crossroads of East and West, leading to an interesting and exciting fusion of cultures, attitudes, and customs.