Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Piracy Movies Your Rights Online

The Avengers: Why Pirates Failed To Prevent a Box Office Record 663

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-wouldn't-download-an-angry-green-dude dept.
TheGift73 sends this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "Despite the widespread availability of pirated releases, The Avengers just scored a record-breaking $200 million opening weekend at the box office. While some are baffled to see that piracy failed to crush the movie's profits, it's really not that surprising. Claiming a camcorded copy of a movie seriously impacts box office attendance is the same as arguing that concert bootlegs stop people from seeing artists on stage. ... Of all the people who downloaded a pirate copy of the film about 20% came from the U.S. This means that roughly 100,000 Americans have downloaded a copy online through BitTorrent. Now, IF all these people bought a movie ticket instead then box office revenue would be just 0.5% higher. Not much of an impact, and even less when you consider that these 'pirates' do not all count as a lost sale."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Avengers: Why Pirates Failed To Prevent a Box Office Record

Comments Filter:
  • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:01PM (#39930825)

    With ticket prices way up (at least from the last time I paid to see a movie in a theater) of course even a bomb is going to have high $ sales.

    What percentage of seats available were sold? I think that would be a better metric than gross dollars worth of tickets sold...

  • by jaymz666 (34050) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:04PM (#39930865)

    How do we know those 100K downloads didn't ALSO buy a ticket?
    Also, how many of those 100K downloads bought a ticket because of the download?

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:04PM (#39930867)

    Or how much piracy helped Hollywood gain? Of those 100,000 or so Americans that downloaded it, I'd be willing to bet a fair number of them did go see it in theaters simply because they liked the crappy version they downloaded and wanted the full cinematic experience.

  • by neokushan (932374) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:05PM (#39930883)

    What makes you so sure that it actually causes a loss? You don't think that maybe some of the downloaders flicked through it, watched a bit of it or perhaps even the whole thing and thought to themselves "Hey that was pretty damn good, I want to go see it in the cinema and get the full experience!"?
    Maybe if it wasn't for piracy, Avengers would have made $5million less.
    Or maybe, just maybe, it would not have made a difference at all.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:06PM (#39930901)

    And how many of the 300 million that didn't download it also didn't go to see it because they couldn't justify $15 for a movie that they only might like?

  • No shit! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:10PM (#39930983)

    Pirates are not a lost sale! You were NEVER going to get their money for so many reasons.

    Not the least of which is the MPAA keeps PISSING PAYING CUSTOMERS OFF!

    Stop being tools. Stop pissing your customers off. Stop with the regional release bullshit. Stop trying to keep control of how, when and where we watch a movie.

    Fuck you guys are morons. You'd think.. THINK... that with all the money you piss away and steal every year.. you could at least HIRE someone with a clue.

    But no. keep blundering around like a drunk moron and wonder why people pirate.

  • by nanotech (34819) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:18PM (#39931129)

    I didn't bother to read the article obviously, but to compare opening weekend results directly with CAM downloads ignores many aspects. The most obvious to me is the people who did NOT go out to the theatre and who WILL NOT download the CAM, but who WILL wait two months for a high-quality free Blu-Ray rip to appear online. These are potentially lost sales for the theatres.

    (Having said that, after going back to a theatre for the first time in a couple years specifically to see Avengers, I still believe the root of their problem does not lie with piracy, it lies with the appalling rudeness found in your average public gathering. For the same price, two months later, my living room is infinitely more comfortable and better equipped to show ME the movie in a manner I will enjoy and not be distracted by phones, screaming children, and poor sound).

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:19PM (#39931151)
    Yeah, but Joss Whedon's fans have been stiffed!

    Bring back FIREFLY!
  • by Cinder6 (894572) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:19PM (#39931161)

    Another important metric: How many of those 100k downloads were from people who wouldn't have bought a ticket even if they couldn't pirate it?

  • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes.gmail@com> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:22PM (#39931199)
    Dear Hollywood,
    The reason The Avengers succeeded where other movies performed poorly is because it was a special and unique movie. Specifically, it was a good movie that lots of people wanted to see.
    Sincerely,
    Me.
  • by Altus (1034) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:24PM (#39931227) Homepage

    Actually there is a halo effect with movies, a friend of mine did his PHD thesis in economics partially on this effect. When a big movie comes out the previous movies (if its a series) see a bump in DVD sales. Movies by the same director or with the same lead actors get a bump. In this case, certainly the previous "Avenger" movies in the "series" probably saw a bump in DVD sales and movies with Robert Downey Jr probably saw a bump.

    The reason for this is likely pretty simple, people are talking about the Avengers and that stirs up interest in the previous movies, wanting to see them again or see them for the first time before the big movie or even a friend saying "Hey if you liked Robert Downey Jr in Iron man you should see Sherlock."

    If there is a place where piracy is effecting the bottom line for studios it is probably seen in this effect where people might have been inspired to buy a copy of the Hulk to check it out but instead downloaded it to save a few bucks. It would be interesting to look at the spike in downloads for movies that your would expect to see a spike in DVD sales for.

    Of course that doesn't mean every download of those movies is a lost sale, many of these movies are available for rental or VOD.

  • by ranton (36917) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:24PM (#39931231)

    I think he meant to say that the percentage is meaningless, it is the actual dollar amount that matters. 0.5% may sound small, but $1,000,000 is a lot of money. Not relatively large, but that is still $1,000,000 more that should go to those investing in the movie and movie theatres, not people trying to get something for nothing.

    Then again, that 0.5% is completely made up. For all I know, the pirating could have helped them make more money from free advertising ("Hey, I saw this awesome movie on Bittorrent, you should go see it this weekend").

  • by BlackThorne_DK (688564) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:31PM (#39931335)

    Well, according to the article, and the summary too, actually, about 0.5%, maximum. But the article goes on to say this is in the U.S.

    But does this mean that piracy is not an issue for the movie industry at all? Well not so fast.

    A recent study showed that the US box office is not suffering from movie piracy, but that there is a detrimental effect on international box office figures. The researchers attribute this impact to the wide release gaps, which sometimes result in a high quality DVD copy being available on pirate sites while a movie is still showing in theaters.

    Then fix the release gaps, and stop whining. The rest of the world is tired of being reduced to second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth class [wikipedia.org] US citizens...
    If you want our money, start treating us like equals, and release the damn movies at the same time everywhere.
    With digital releases, it shouldn't be that hard.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:35PM (#39931399)
    Agree'd
    Our local theater has started serving bagged popcorn that they heat up under a lamp. It's still $15 for a large popcorn and a flat soda. Instead of butter they now have a "butter flavoring" dispenser that shoots out some cold, yellow tinted oil substance all over your popcorn. Then they have about 5 different shakers filled with different flavors of salt. None of which really contain salt... I'm not sure what exactly it is... but it's definitely not salt. But hey, they have Imax!
  • Math... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:37PM (#39931425) Homepage

    If all of those pirates paid to see the movie instead, that would increase sales by 0.5%... However:

    Some pirates may have downloaded it for multiple people to watch.
    Some may have downloaded it but also paid to see the movie, perhaps using the pirate copy to decide if the movie is worth watching or not, then going to see a full quality copy.
    Some of those who downloaded it might never have watched it at all had a download not been available.
    Some who watched the downloaded copy may have told others it was worth watching, who then went and paid to see it.

    What the box office record does say however, is that piracy is not responsible for low sales... If a movie bombs, the poor sales are more likely to do with the movie being garbage (and there have been a LOT of crap movies released lately) than down to piracy.

    Piracy is a scapegoat, used as an excuse for crap movies and as justification for implementing even more draconian restrictions on paying customers.

    Ofcourse its a self fulfilling prophecy, if you release crap movies and enforce draconian restrictions on legitimate customers, then people will flock to the pirate copies which lack those restrictions (and a shit movie might be worth watching for free if your bored, while not being worth the time and expense to see it legitimately).

  • by noh8rz3 (2593935) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:39PM (#39931463)
    Ok, let's crowd source this, if you're reading this, are in the US, and downloaded a pirated advance copy, please respond: did you also buy a ticket for opening weekend? Did you choose to buy a ticket BECAUSSE of the download? Wild you have been likely to buy a ticket, but did not due to the download? This would be a good slashdot poll.
  • by alexo (9335) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:48PM (#39931643) Journal

    Q: Why Pirates Failed To Prevent a Box Office Record?
    A: Because They Never Intended To.

  • by dhavleak (912889) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:07PM (#39931985)

    Same thing applies to Slashdot. Threads of this exact nature pop up every 2 months or so for the last 10 years -- and the point they're trying to make is still incorrect.

    The media owners have every right to choose their business model.
    The customer has every right to purchase, or not to purchase.
    You don't want to spend 10 bucks on Avengers in a regular theater -- the MPAA cannot make you spend those 10 bucks. They can't make you spend 16 bucks to watch it in 3D either. They can't force you to buy the DVD or BluRay. They can't force you to rent it. You have every right to disagree with their terms, and not give them your business. But you don't have the right to obtain their media on terms they did not agree to.

    You guys are simply discussing the wrong thing. The profitability of Avengers is 100% immaterial. The producer could choose to sell at 10x the price, or 1/100th (and take a loss). Their media, their choice. You choose to buy or not to buy (which is how you regulate their choice). Piracy is theft no matter how you dress it up.

  • by ctsupafly (1731348) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:13PM (#39932069)
    Your points are correct, but piracy of media is NOT theft. Theft implies something was taken, piracy (in this sense) is copyright infringement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:15PM (#39932115)

    No, you're discussing the wrong thing. Every day we hear about how our basic freedoms are being taken away to stop the pirates from ruining the movie industry. We hear that we have to suffer through some awful DRM scheme because otherwise the media producer will go out of business under the staggering weight of piracy.

    No matter how many votes we place to kick out SOPA supporters or what purchasing behavior we engage in, the informed and engaged don't number enough to make a difference unless we speak loud and often to convince the apathetic masses. The point we're making is not only correct, it is the only one worth mentioning.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:27PM (#39932263) Journal
    There is an important matter you are failing to address:

    It is arguable that the degree of harm presented by 'piracy' is immaterial in judging its illegality, or even its wrongness; but it is overwhelmingly harder to argue that it is immaterial to the question of what measures should be adopted to stop it...

    When the media owners are(more or less continually in one guise or another) continually demanding greater legal protection and enforcement, which carries both direct monetary costs to the public, as well as potential damage to the interests of people and other industries, the amount of harm that they are suffering is very much an important detail.

    Even if we are agreed that 'piracy' is theft, the question "Theft of how much?" matters. The law enforcement expenditures, and the curtailment of the interests of other parties, one could justify for the theft of $1 are totally different than the theft of $1,000,000.

    If we do not so agree, the question acquires an even greater importance. If, for instance, we construct the phrase "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." to suggest that Congress should only extend copyright if, and where, doing so promotes the progress of science and the useful arts, this immediately raises the question of where, and where not, additional copyright protection leads to additional production.

    At a bare minimum, even if copyrights are viewed as fully equivalent to real property, and infringement fully equivalent to theft, there is an important question of fact about how big the theft is. One simply must answer it in order to categorize, and respond to, the calls for detection and prosecution of such theft.

    If one takes a less expansive view of the scope of copyright, it is entirely possible that the degree of economic harm to the owner of the work becomes directly relevant to the question of what protections you will give it. Protections are, after all, carved out of the scope of what others are allowed to do. They inevitably represent compromises. The gravity of each party's concession is important to deciding where the correct compromise lies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:29PM (#39932287)

    No, it's not. It's copyright infringement. For fuck's sake, as you said, we've had a thread of this exact nature pop up every 2 months for the last 10 years, so how the hell can you not know that. Stop injecting emotion into your arguments. This is not about piracy, anyway. It's about control of the distribution mechanism. Have you been sleeping under a rock? Everyone knows pirates do not affect profits one singular iota. Even the *AAs know that. But what they DON'T want is people turning to the internet for independent content that they don't have their greedy, propagandizing hands on. It's a thinly veiled excuse to make sure no one else can encroach on their territory.

  • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@gmai ... om minus painter> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:45PM (#39932533) Homepage
    It's a legit point. Claiming that "piracy isn't the problem the MPAA shrieks it is" is not the same thing as claiming that "piracy isn't theft".

    You can't determine the appropriate response to a problem without correctly grasping how much of a problem it is. We as a country made a decision that the problem of highway accidents wasn't severe enough to justify a 55MPH speed limit, and raised it to 70MPH, for example. As a more appropriate example, we also decided that the threat of piracy by VCR was not severe enough to ban the production and sale of VCRs - as the MPAA tried to propose [wikipedia.org].

    So, to reiterate: people can think piracy is theft while also thinking the MPAA is vastly exaggerating the severity of the problem.

  • Give it up. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:50PM (#39932657)

    It's been ten years. Those actors are now older and some are unfortunately, erm, larger. It's too late for new Firefly. Joss has sworn off it anyway.

    Let Firefly be your martyr and leave it at that.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:52PM (#39932699) Homepage

    Something was taken. The income that would have otherwise been realized from a legitimate purchase.

    That income could be zero, if the pirate would not have made a legitimate purchase in the absence of piracy. This is the #1 mistake made when discussing this -- assuming that if someone pirates a copy, that they would have purchased that copy if they couldn't pirate.

    That relation simply doesn't hold, though. This is most obvious if you consider the teenager with $50,000 worth of music and movies on their hard drive. If piracy was impossible, do you think they would have spent $50,000 on music and movies?

    It's still stealing, and using a less stark name for it doesn't make it any less theft in absolute terms any more than the difference between lifting a pack of gum is less "theft" than boosting a Porsche.

    In both those cases, there was a real, non-hypothetical loss. You don't have to guess whether a car thief would have bought a Porsche if car theft was impossible (probably not) -- the dealer is still out one Porsche. Whereas with piracy the loss is hypothetical and you do need to guess what the pirate would have done to even claim there was a loss.

    That's why copyright infringement is not theft. It is not the legal definition of "that kind of theft". It's the legal definition of something which is illegal, but isn't theft.

    Things that aren't theft can still be wrong. Maybe this is the third mistake that leads to the previous two mistakes -- If it's not theft it's not wrong, and copyright infringement is wrong therefore it must be theft!

    No. Copyright infringement is wrong, but it is not theft.

  • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:54PM (#39932765) Journal

    Let me start with saying that I don't pirate - but I disagree with your conclusions anyway.

    Same thing applies to Slashdot. Threads of this exact nature pop up every 2 months or so for the last 10 years -- and the point they're trying to make is still incorrect.

    The media owners have every right to choose their business model.

    As long as they don't have a monopoly and don't collude to restrict consumer choice or set prices, that is.

    Oh, they *do* have monopolies, granted by the government, and *do* collude? Then they've violated their end of the bargain.

    The customer has every right to purchase, or not to purchase.

    You don't want to spend 10 bucks on Avengers in a regular theater -- the MPAA cannot make you spend those 10 bucks. They can't make you spend 16 bucks to watch it in 3D either. They can't force you to buy the DVD or BluRay. They can't force you to rent it. You have every right to disagree with their terms, and not give them your business. But you don't have the right to obtain their media on terms they did not agree to.

    You guys are simply discussing the wrong thing. The profitability of Avengers is 100% immaterial. The producer could choose to sell at 10x the price, or 1/100th (and take a loss). Their media, their choice. You choose to buy or not to buy (which is how you regulate their choice).

    Let me rephrase: "You choose to participate or not participate in culture (which is how you regulate their choice.)"

    This is a cost that's not reasonable for most people to take; it cuts off their references and ability to communicate.

    As part of culture, the media is partially owned collectively by the culture, and partially owned by the people that produced it. This was recognized in the original constitutional basis for US copyright:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    (Emphasis mine).

    Piracy is theft no matter how you dress it up.

    DRM is theft no matter how you dress it up; theft from the commons.

    Piracy is copyright infringement. It is a violation of rights granted by law, like battery is a violation of rights granted by law. But it isn't theft.

    Also, I believe most piracy involve no loss to the original rightsholder - most piracy is performed by mass pirates, who would not have the financial capacity to buy more than a very small fraction of whatever they pirate in the first place, and most things they pirate they never get around to looking at, and would not have bought if it had any noticeable cost at all.

  • by TheCRAIGGERS (909877) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:21PM (#39933275)

    I didn't see him/her making that point.

    The copyright holders already have copyright. Regardless of the moral arguments, copying a piece of media that you don't have the copyright for is illegal. As you pointed out, that is well and good and we already have laws set up to punish those who break it for better or worse.

    What I don't agree with however, is eroding our rights to give copyright holders a bigger stick to beat people with. Especially when there is such a long history of big business using various laws that were written for other purposes to reduce competition and other shenanigans.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:55PM (#39933857) Homepage Journal

    Your post was insightful until the last line, "Piracy is theft no matter how you dress it up." Piracy is no more theft than theft is murder. Here's the difference between stealing a movie and pirating a movie.

    If you walk into WalMart and steal the DVD, that's theft. WalMart no longer has their DVD, they took a loss, whether or not the thief ever intended to watch the movie. If he's caught, he'll pay a couple hundred bucks in fines.

    If you pirate a movie, nobody has lost anything, and it may even prompt the pirate to see the director's or leading actor's next movie on the big screen. And if he's caught, he'll pay hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    "Piracy is theft" is propaganda for the stupid. They share less in common than theft and rape.

  • by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:58PM (#39933929) Homepage

    That's why copyright infringement is not theft. It is not the legal definition of "that kind of theft". It's the legal definition of something which is illegal, but isn't theft.

    It absolutely is theft. You're stealing access that you don't have. Doesn't matter how you dress it up, and what legalese you use -- it's theft.

    Definition of theft: the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another.

    The music I'm downloading illegally is the property of no one. Someone may have a copyright on it, but that doesn't make it their property. Therefore it cannot be theft.
    Moreover, I'm not "carrying it away", I'm duplicating it. Therefore, for the second time, it is not theft.

    Learn your word first, then look if it applies to the situation. Copyright infringement is not theft by any sense of the word theft. You might want to call it "theft" but that doesn't make it so. Not in English at least. in dhavleakish maybe?

  • MPAA gets to choose their business model. They don't get to ban entire Internet protocols, arbitrarily shut down websites without due process, kick end-users off the Internet, or any other non-business-model-related "rights" they've been lobbying for.
  • by Mista2 (1093071) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:28PM (#39934345)

    The unwelcome truth to the MPIAA, piracy isnt killing the movie industry. Crap movies are killing the movie industry.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:32PM (#39934393) Homepage

    Where's the flaw in that argument?

    Um, every single part where you affect my material possession in any way? From wear-and-tear to outright damage (seriously?), to simply preventing me from having access to it if I decide to take my date home early or I forgot something in my car that's now not there.

    The whole point is that if you pirate something the original copy is not affected in any way whatsoever. There isn't a single change, there isn't a single nanosecond where it's not still available to them.

    If you could do something comparable to piracy to my car, like use a Star Trek replicator to instantly and harmlessly scan it, then reproduce a new one in the parking spot next it and then you drove off in that.. Then I wouldn't care.

    Of course I also don't care if you did the same thing to my movies, but I'm not the copyright holder so my stake is only in my particular copy. Your argument doesn't even relate to the actual issue copyright holders have with piracy! What was even the point of this argument?

  • by Mista2 (1093071) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:32PM (#39934395)

    If its not availbale for sale in my region, its not theft. If they wont sell it to me, they cant claim lost sale.
    Want Game of Thrones outside the USA?? hahahahahahahahaha, only one way to get it.
    With ebooks I have I look for legal sources first, 70% of the time I am still faced with "not available in your region"
    I can buy the frikken paper book from Amazon and ship it around the world, but not a lousy 300Kb of data?

  • Your points would be correct IF we had a free market, but we don't, we have government controlled monopolies. See copyrights being so long your great grandchildren will be dead before this movie leaves copyright (if it ever does) and the cartel pricing of movie theaters (ever wonder why nobody tries to undercut the ticket prices to draw more crowds? its because they CAN'T because they will be banned by the cartels from getting any prints) and your arguments simply don't hold water.

    What we are talking about is frankly one of the most simple tenants of economics, if you price an item too high and use artificial scarcity to control those prices then a black market WILL arise to service those customers you ignore. Instead of following the Henry Ford model of classical capitalism, IE sell it cheap and crank them out, instead you have a bunch of MBAs (Masters of Being Assholes) that figure out what the absolute limit is and try to charge at that price or even above. You wanna know why piracy exists MAFIAA? Look in the mirror, you don't offer the customers what they want at a price they can afford.

    If you were smart you'd do like Valve has with Steam, where they sell it cheap and crank it out but that wouldn't allow you to screw over the consumers like you screw the artists with Hollywood Accounting (which if EVER there existed a reason for an antitrust investigation that would be it) while making record profits. In the end the only ones you hurt are yourselves, no amount of propaganda is gonna make the public turn on piracy simply because your prices are too high. Many former game pirates that I know switched to Steam simply because it allows them to get games quickly at an easily affordable price point.

    But as long as the means of distribution and copyrights are controlled by the cartels friend then your argument simply does not hold because there is no real chance for competition to spring up and lower the prices. This is the main point of a cartel after all, to control access so only those that are part of the cartels have any real chance of success.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:52PM (#39937001)

    Especially in this case. $10 is not a tremendous amount of money. I downloaded a cam a few months ago to see the quality and it was hysterical. Anybody that downloads a cam and watches it the whole way through is the same kind of person who would dumpster dive and consider it no different than gourmet food.

    They would have never paid for it under any circumstances.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach

Working...