Angry Indonesians curse Potter movie no-show

Angry Indonesians curse Potter movie no-show

A drawn-out tax dispute which has led US studios to boycott the country means fans there will miss out on "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2", which had its world premiere in London on Thursday.

"We're really angry and frustrated. The government doesn't care and seems to be shutting its ears to our pleas. How much longer do we have to wait to watch quality movies in Indonesia?" Potter fan Febry Lumbantoruan, a 30-year-old human resources officer, told AFP.

The Potter movies have a devoted following in Indonesia, where thousands of fans play the wizard sport of Quidditch on Twitter, enrol themselves in wizard schools and cast charms and spells on one another on Facebook.

Like their fellow Potter fans around the world, Indonesians have been eagerly awaiting the films' concluding chapter, an explosive battle between Potter and the dark forces of Lord Voldemort.

Soraya Assagaf, a 19-year-old undergraduate, said that she and 20 friends had to ditch plans to dress up as witches and wizards to watch the film together.

"We're furious! We have already prepared our black robes and wands," she said.

"I'm a very angry witch. I will cast a 'Crucio' curse on the government and torture them for failing to bring the film in," she said, referring to a spell in Potter's world that inflicts excruciating pain on its victims.

Since the boycott began in February, Indonesian movie lovers have missed out on blockbusters including "Black Swan", "True Grit" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides". Cinema takings have plunged by 60 to 70 percent.

The dispute began after Indonesia said it would tax movies based on box-office earnings, which the Motion Picture Association (MPA) -- representing US studios such as Warner Bros, which makes the Potter films -- rejected as prohibitively high.

Officials said last month that a new tax regime had been put in place for foreign films, charging by the minute, in response to the MPA's protests.

But that has yet to lure US movies back to Indonesian screens.

"It looks likely that Harry Potter will not be screened here," Indonesian Cinema Companies Union head Djonny Sjafruddin told AFP.

"How can it be shown here if the dispute between the film producer and the government is not solved yet? Maybe once the problem is solved, we can have a chance of watching it later this year," he said.

Movie lovers accuse the government of dragging its feet. Desperate fans are even booking flights to neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia to catch the film on the big screen.

Puspa Alamanda Matondang, a 19-year-old student, said she had pleaded with her businessman father to take her to Singapore to watch the film during a break next month.

"I begged him. I said, 'Papa, how could I be watching the finale of an epic film on pirated DVD?' He said he will try his best to take me to Singapore," she said.

"If I don't get to watch it in the cinema, I will be so sad I will roll all over the floor crying my eyeballs out," she added.

But for many who lack the spare cash for such drastic solutions, the only option is to wait for pirated DVDs of the film to arrive -- or, like 17-year-old student Sahrul Rozi, hope for magical intervention.

"There's nothing I can do. I wish Harry Potter could exist in real life so he could use his magical powers to screen his final movie here," he said.