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

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  • by M1FCJ (586251) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:01PM (#39930811) Homepage

    Please do not try to confuse people with facts and logic. We all know MPIAA knows best. Right? Right?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:11PM (#39931017)

      If you use facts, the terrorists win!

    • You miss the point. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:11PM (#39932047)

      The direct damage to ticket sales is NOT the reason the industry hates piracy. This is a very common misconception.

      Piracy undermines the concept of ownership of data. If data cannot be owned, then it is not an asset.

      One important key to being wealthy is asset diversification. It isn't just about having money, but also having gold bars, land, vehicles, businesses, and intellectual property. You own all of these things because their value can remain high even when the value of the dollar shrinks.

      So, "owning" a movie is vastly more important than maximizing rent profits. Piracy tickles rent profits, but completely destroys the ability to own the asset, and hence reduces the wealth of everyone who has a large ownership stake in IP.

      Of course....the fact that data cannot be owned because the laws of physics just don't support the concept is a non-issue. That is exactly what the force of law is for: to make poor people obediently buy in to the systems of ownership that keep them poor.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:06PM (#39932983)
      Movies like the Avengers will tend to do well vs. Piracy, because these high effect movies, look really good with all the sound, and large screens... If you pirate it, you get a shaky little display with perhaps stereo sound. Now movies with a plot, may be more of a target to piracy. As we are more interested in the story and not the experience. But Hollywood doesn't put too many of those movies out any more, and will reserve these shows to DVD or TV production. Just because they can make money off of those that way. The big screen, is getting more limited to those High End Fancy Effect films. They often will take some medium effect films and play them for a week, just to give them official movie credits, but their goal is to make money off the DVD/BlueRays.
    • 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 noh8rz3 (2593935) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:01PM (#39930817)
    The summary is asking the wrong question. It's not whether piracy prevents blockbusters. It's how much does piracy reduce the box office receipts of new releases. Maybe avengers would have made $5 million more without piracy, or $20 million more, or 25 cents more. I have no idea. But let's at least ask the right questions. I'd appreciate anybody's thoughts on how much the piracy cost.
    • 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 internerdj (1319281) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:12PM (#39931019)
        I'd suggest those who wonder why people aren't visiting the theaters have not yet had "the full cinematic experience."
        • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:17PM (#39931115)
          I have, it involved latex gloves, lube, and no post-coital cuddle.
        • 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!
        • by sdguero (1112795)
          The girl sitting next to me at Avengers last night was snoring the entire movie. Not sleeping mind you, just snoring.
        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          Yep, including cell phone ring tones, bright smart-phone screens, obscene smells, obnoxious children, dirty seats, dirty rest-rooms, overpriced food and drink and of course you get to enjoy all this at arctic temperatures.
          • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:11PM (#39932045)

            I see the overpriced food and drink.

            The rest don't happen at our local theatre.

            What it does have is mind piercing volume. We are talking 120db, nearly weaponized volume you can hear outside the building.

            We asked that they turn it down last night and they did. We stopped doing business with the theatre which will not lower the volume.

            And that was a for a light romantic comedy. Not even an action film. For some ungodly reason it was set to 7th row rock concert volume.

            ---

            You can't duplicate the huge screen.

            You can't duplicate the crowd effects of mass laughter, mass "ooing", mass "screaming"-- i.e. the crowd interacting with the film as a group.

            I can see a comedy at home and its ... okay. I see the same thing with 20 other people (much less 300 other people) in a theatre and it's hysterical.

            For action films, the huge screen has an impact that my 55" at home lacks.

            If you put cam quality dark, with theatre noises and occasional random shakes up against a real DVD 3 months later and the theatre during 1st run, it's no contest.

            Cam is a novelty and helpful to poor students.

            My problem with DVD's (and entertainment in general) is that there is more than I can watch. I'm overwhelmed. So I usually go with the cheapest. But for Avengers, I did go see it in 3d. The 3d sucked and the glasses were uncomfortable after 2 hours.

            I paid 7.25 which seems very reasonable.

      • by na1led (1030470) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:29PM (#39931307)
        I can vouch for that, I downloaded Tron Legacy (cam video). The quality was terrible but it got me interested to go see the movie at cinema. Problem is that these Trailers always make these movies look good, but suck when you go watch them. If it's a good movie, I'll go watch it on the big screen, or buy the Blueray, but I'd like to see what I'm paying for first.
        • mmmm, this is interesting.

          Imagine if someone implemented some sort of:

          "Watch the first 10 minutes of this movie for free" and then you have the option to buy the ticket "for your nearest cinema" (or purchase the movie online if it has already been released in that medium).

          Although it seems unlikely because it offers almost no incentives in the business side of things (unless it was a paid subscription system).

    • 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 aztracker1 (702135) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:27PM (#39931281) Homepage
        Can't speak for anyone else, but I go out to the movies several times a month... I'll often download a pirate copy if I have to go to the restroom during the middle of the film, so I can catch what I missed. I will also download copies of movies I have bought, as it's often easier and faster than transcoding them myself. I'm not always a lost sale, and a lot of times I am an added sale because of "piracy". I also tend to buy useful software, I may pirate 2-3 versions after my initial purchased version though, before purchasing again. In the end, I'm just a frugal bastard who wants a bit more convenience, and value for my money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noh8rz3 (2593935)
        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 kiwimate (458274) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:06PM (#39930905) Journal

      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.

      • 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").

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270)

        What that tells us is that, just as we saw in the music industry, the primary driving reason for piracy is not cost, but rather unavailability. Not everybody likes the "full cinematic experience"—sticky floors, overpriced food, little b**tards throwing popcorn at your head, etc. However, lots of folks still would like to see the movie at the same time as everyone else so that they can talk about it with their friends.

        Thus, the very act of trying to prop up the theaters through protectionist tactics

      • Maybe they should simply stop having release windows, and do international releases in under a week instead of months apart.
      • 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 ArhcAngel (247594)

      The summary is asking the wrong question. It's not whether piracy prevents blockbusters. It's how much does piracy reduce the box office receipts of new releases.

      That's not even the right question because the answer is inconsequential. The real question is how do bootlegs affect BD/DVD/VOD sales/rentals. I go to the theater to get the full effect. I only go to the theater for movies I truly want to see. I knew 2 years ago I was going to go to the theater to see The Avengers. For all of the "I'd like to see it if..." titles I can wait and see them at home. That's where a bootleg would cut into sales and where I'd like to see the numbers. I'd say in the US it's still

  • 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 Anonymous Coward

    I live in US, downloaded a cam rip, and still bought three tickets to see it. Hell, I'll probably pay to see it again.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:03PM (#39930839)

    You forgot to apply the Hollywood Multiplier. Each of those pirates would actually watch the movie at least 800 times apiece. In 3D. And buy tons of merchandise. If only the option to download it outside of the system wasn't available. So it's actually a 400% loss, not a *potential* 0.5% loss.

  • Yar (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:04PM (#39930861)

    Yar. Though we be pirates brave and true, our great guns and carronades only reach about 1 mile inland - and that be with good harborage. Thar be no way we can conduct the required cannonades to plundar all movie theatres for thar treasure chests of delicious popcorn with non-dairy liquid.

  • 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?

  • Um (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:06PM (#39930893)

    People actually watch those camcordered versions? Really? I torrented one once. I thought it was a joke. Is there a market for pirated ebooks with blurry fonts or MP3s reduced to monaural sound at 16 Kbps, too?

    • You have three alternatives for seeing the Avengers in the near future:
      $15 - watch it in crowded theaters at high def, pay gobs more for concessions
      $0 - watch it at home at low def in your underwear with your own snacks
      $0 - don't watch it (or wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it as often as you want for the price of a single theater viewing)

      The second and third option cost the same and there are a lot of people that still get as much or more enjoyment from the low def movie in their own home. I chose

    • by netsavior (627338)
      I take it you never pirated audiobooks or ebooks pre-kindle. The Audible mp3s are getting better, but for a long time even pay audiobooks were super low quality. Before there were large name ebook vendors (and I am talking amazon and barnes here not the smaller older ones) most of the eBooks out there in pirateland were from spine ripped, ocr'd scan stacks. They weren't blurry, but they were full of ocr errors and formatting problems.
  • I didn't even know there was a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie opening.

  • by metrix007 (200091) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:08PM (#39930933)

    The thing about Piracy is, the people who pirate are not people who would have paid for it in the first place.

    That's what they don't get. It's not stealing, because there are no lost sales.

    People pirate because it is convenient, or because they want to see it and don't think it is worth paying for, or can't pay for it (students/unemployed as well as other regions). That is why Piracy makes no dent, because people are happy to pay for things worth paying for. All of the super hero movies. Good comedies. Shit like Contraband or MIB3 is simply going to do marginally well because it is tripe. Popcorn entertainment that is only worth paying for if there is nothing better to see and you still want to go to the movies.

    I pirate a lot, because I can't afford to go to the theaters for most movies. Conversely most movies are not worth paying for and if I could not download them, I would be absolutely fine with that. The avengers is worth seeing in a cinema, which is why I will make sure I see it in one.

    If studios, artists and programmers get rid of this idiotic concept that piracy is stealing and they are losing money, and just start making stuff worth paying for at a price people are willing to pay, then they will reap a profit. It's that simple, folks.

    • by Algae_94 (2017070)

      The thing about Piracy is, the people who pirate are not people who would have paid for it in the first place.

      I've already read 2 other posts of people that did pirate the cam version and then went to go see the movie. Piracy has a lot of use cases. The only one that costs the content producers money is when a person was going to pay for the content, but pirated instead and decides that is all they need. What % of pirated copies falls into this use case is a big unknown. I have a feeling it isn't very high and a lot of pirates wouldn't have been paying customers like you said, but I don't believe that 100% of p

    • by na1led (1030470)

      The thing about Piracy is, the people who pirate are not people who would have paid for it in the first place.

      That's not true. People who downloaded High Definition movies to watch on their big screen TV do it to save them the cost of buying it. Someone might see a BluRay movie they want, but don't want to spend the cash getting it, or rather try downloading it first. If a person can't get the movie for free, but really wants it, they'll pay for it. I bet some people who want to see this movie will wait till it's out on BluRay and download it, vs going to see at the cinema.

  • by Cytlid (95255) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:08PM (#39930939)
    ... you stole the money from a pirate to see the movie? Who loses then?
  • by zethreal (982453) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:08PM (#39930949)
    Huge numbers of people pirated the movie before it was released. The movie broke the record for opening weekend sales. Therefore, using the same figuring style that the MPAA uses ( only in reverse ), piracy actually made the movie industry millions!
  • If I just want to see a movie, I'll watch it at home.

    Piracy shouldn't affect new-releases at all. People go to the cinema for the whole experience which is really something that can't be pirated, can it? Unless you install full projection equipment and a three story screen in your own home.

    The rude interruptions from phone callers will come regardless.

  • Not News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:09PM (#39930973) Homepage

    We saw this 10 year ago with "The Eminem Show". That album was everywhere online before it went on sale. It was like a virus--it was hard to be online during the Spring of 2002 and NOT download a copy.

    Then it was released, debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, sold over 1 million copies the first week, and was the best selling album of 2002.

    I guess a story like this is good as another example to drive the point home. But really, not news.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ..because of cancer was the reason we got the torrented copy. She was able to watch while we were at the theater, so it was almost like she went with us. She in NO way would count as a lost ticket sale, and I expect this wasn't a unique occurance.

  • 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).

  • 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 silas_moeckel (234313) <silas AT dsminc-corp DOT com> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:39PM (#39931465) Homepage

    Joss Whedon he generally does not make junk films. The movie did not suffer because it did not suck.

  • 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 catmistake (814204) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @08:47PM (#39936971) Journal

    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

    Hello. I'm claiming that you pirated that phrase from me and are claiming it as your own. You will be receiving a letter from the Slashdot Commenter's Association of America (SCAA).

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