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Miramax CEO says Apple a bigger threat to movie industry than piracy

Apple's domination of the digital media marketplace is more of a threat to movie companies than piracy, according to Miramax CEO Mike Lang.

Lang argued at the MIPCOM entertainment media event in Cannes this week that in order for movie companies to survive, there must be parity in the digital distribution marketplace, adding that iTunes is hurting competition.

"Piracy really is not the bigger issue for our company or for our library," Lang said. "It's been a lack of exploitation, just not getting it out there."

With Apple's domination of media distribution through its iTunes online store, Lang said the electronics maker is hindering movie companies from distributing their catalogs to a wider audience. The Miramax chief believes that more competition is healthy for both creators of media and the end consumer, as it drives prices down and allows for more content to be available in more places.

Lang also pointed out that the movie industry as a whole needs to not let iTunes dominate distribution as it does with the music industry. While music companies were fighting piracy battles in court, Apple slowly amassed an overwhelming presence in the digital music market and now has the largest online catalog with up to 20 million tracks.

"Apple is the strongest company in the music industry, and because there was not enough competition, and still to this day is not enough competition, as an industry it can't then influence packaging, merchandising, all the things that are vital," Lang said. "As the movie business we have to be very cognizant of that."

He thinks the film industry needs to take note of the lessons learned by the music industry and try to foster cross-platform competition instead of focusing on one channel of distribution.

"That's why we did our deal with Netflix, and why we also did our deal with Hulu," he said. "We want multiple players to be successful."

Chief Content Officer of NetFlix Ted Sarandos, left, talks with Miramax CEO Mike Lang, right, at MIPCOM | Source: mipworld

Miramax inked a deal with Netflix in May, that allows the movie rental company to stream "several hundred" of the studio's movies through its service. The company also signed with online video streaming site Hulu in June to allow streaming of hundreds of commercial-free movies on Hulu Plus, as well as 15 commercial-sponsored videos that are rotated every month.

"It's really important as an industry that we try to allow multiple players in markets around the world," Lang said.