The Hollywood Reporter's Janice Min sees China as a promising new market for U.S. entertainment exports. Currently, China only lets in 20 films a year. Even so, American-made films accounted for 50 percent of their box office. "There's all this pent-up demand" from a growing middle class, so China "will have to open up," she said. China is adding three movie screens a day to its existing 6,500 screens.
"Inception" and "Clash of the Titans" did very well in China in 2010, according to Legendary Pictures' Thomas Hull. "When China matures as an entertainment consumer," the demand will be unprecedented, he said.
On the other hand, Expedia Inc.'s Barry Diller said China and India have "vibrant" film industries of their own. He predicted that Hollywood, which has dominated for 85 years, won't do so much longer.
Asked by moderator Dennis Kneale whether the risk of piracy is overblown, Min joked that "piracy is like trying to get rid of roaches in a New York apartment."
The best way to reduce piracy is for the films to be available in the countries where copyright infringement is most prevalent, Windsor Media's Terry Semel said. As U.S. companies distribute more content digitally, there will be a piracy risk, but it's small, Diller added.
How else is technology changing the distribution landscape? U.S. entertainment outlets - in the form of TV channels - were once an oligopoly, Semel said. Now Microsoft, Google, Apple and Netflix are accessible to most of the world. And these companies need content.
WME Entertainment's Ariel Emmanuel asked how content will be found in this landscape of broader distribution. Diller said navigation systems will be needed - similar to how Google searches the Web. "And the most powerful thing is viral." When people like content, they will share it.
For more on the future of U.S. entertainment, watch the video.