Film distributors claim cinemas could close unless steps are taken to stop sales of laser discs and videos before movies hit the big screen. An alliance of movie distributors and cinema operators wants the Government to amend the Copyright Ordinance to block sales of videos and laser discs before movies screen locally. Some video rental firms buy videos and laser discs from legitimate overseas sources, known as 'parallel importation', and sometimes offer the film for rent or sale before the movie appears at the cinema. Officials, however, appear in favour of further liberalising the import and sale of copyright films rather than restricting sales. Principal assistant secretary for Trade and Industry Branch Nip Tak-kuen said the branch was drafting a new copyright law, separating pirated goods and parallel imported products. A new bill to be introduced to the Legislative Council in the next few months is expected to allow parallel imports of copyright goods to increase competition between distributors. A group representing the Motion Picture Association of America, Hong Kong and Kowloon Motion Picture Industry Association, Hong Kong Theatres Association and others, claim the groups lost more than $154 million in profits to parallel importers last year. They claim the taped movies often have as much as six-month lead on cinemas as the major distributors take time to complete purchase and publicity deals. KPS Video Express managing director Garrie Roman confirmed about 50 per cent of stock in the territory's largest video store chain had been directly imported from the US. He claimed the alliance of movie distributors and theatre operators were monopolising distribution rights and made big profits from charging customers higher fees. He urged the Government to continue allowing KPS to import movies from North America and provide customers a cheaper entertainment alternative. Crucindo Hung Cho-sing, chairman of Hong Kong and Kowloon Motion Picture Industry Association, said unless the Government took steps to stop parallel imports there would be little future for the local movie industry and cinema operators. 'We cannot live like that. If the Government further loosens up the laser disc market we will have to give up our trade and go straight to the parallel importation market,' he said. 'We will not distribute films in the theatres and theatres will close down.' Mr Hung said Twister lost $12 million profit to parallel importation. Some movies such as Home For The Holidays, which starred Holly Hunter, never made it to the cinemas because imported laser discs were available in stores.