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

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 noh8rz3 ( 2593935 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:01PM (#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.
  • Um (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:06PM (#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?

  • by metrix007 ( 200091 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:08PM (#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 zethreal ( 982453 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:08PM (#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!
  • Not News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:09PM (#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 on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:10PM (#39930989)

    ..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 dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:26PM (#39931263) Homepage Journal

    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 drives people to pirate, resulting not in not lost sales, but rather delayed sales caused by the inability to buy the DVD at the same time as the movie appears in the theaters; many of those same pirates probably rent or buy a legit copy of the movie when it finally does come out on DVD.

  • by aztracker1 ( 702135 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:27PM (#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.
  • by na1led ( 1030470 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:29PM (#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.
  • by ZeroSumHappiness ( 1710320 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:43PM (#39931551)

    Finally, while not all pirated views represent a lost full-price admission ticket sale, they most certainly do represent a non-zero form of lost revenue.

    Unless I see the cam on Wednesday before the Friday opening, tell all my friends how awesome it was and all five of us see it in the cinema on Friday at midnight. In that scenario the cam /made/ 5 sales. This is pretty much what happened with me and /Cabin in the Woods/. A friend saw it, told me it was good, so my girlfriend and I saw it then we told all our friends they should see it. Look at that, because one guy saw the film and told his friend about ten people have paid full-price admission for it now!

  • Re:Um (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffasselin ( 566598 ) <cormacolinde@gmai l . com> on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:00PM (#39931855) Journal

    Every piece of literature, art, or human creative product is based on what came before. It's based on human nature, human history and human life; the species hasn't changed that much in the last 5000 years since the dawn of urban civilization.

    So if you want really original stuff, read Gilgamesh and Homer, then you're done. Everything else is not original, not completely so; no artist operates in a vacuum.

    Most of us choose instead to gain from retellings and new ways (or new mediums) of telling the archetypal stories of the human condition.

    Is The Avengers a breakthrough? No, but it's a well-executed modern take on interesting and important stories that reveal somethings about ourselves, in a new medium that has its advantages and its failings. And it's FUN.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:11PM (#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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:11PM (#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.

  • The scene where she's tied up in a chair will be legendary to boob guys. It's like a 9.5 on the Hendricks scale.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @04:06PM (#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 eldorel ( 828471 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @05:43PM (#39934555)

    some number of that is definitely lost sales

    Do you really believe this?

    I'm going to use the anime market in the US as an example here.
    After the original japanese release, most anime franchises are not distributed in the US until there is already a large fan base.

    How do you have fans for a show that isn't even available? Piracy.
    How many of these pirates would have bought the dvd if there were no pirated copies being handed out? ZERO, because they would never have known the product exists.

    How many millions of dollars do you think companies like adv, cartoon network, etc made because of the pirate anime market?

    At the same time, around 100,000 people have watched a crappy download of the avengers instead of paying to see it in the theater.
    Have you ever watched a theater rip? It's painful.

    People don't watch camera rips because they would rather save the cost of admission. They watch them because
    a) they CAN"T afford the cost of admission,
    b) they want to see it before opening night,
    c) they downloaded it because they were bored and wanted something to distract them for an hour.

    Group A is not a lost sale.(they have no money)
    Group B is not a lost sale. (they also saw the movie in the theater)
    Group C is not a lost sale. (they would have just turned on the TV instead)

    Now, dvd quality rips are another story. There are people who just download the movie instead of buying it.
    However, there are also a lot of other groups of people who are labeled "pirates"..

    a) People already own the movie but don't feel like ripping and transcoding it by hand ( like my blue ray collection )
    b) People who have the dvd but just got a new 1080p mega-tv and think the higher quality is neat.
    c) People who live in places where you can't buy the movie.
    d) People who contribute screenshots to sites like imdb and tvtropes
    e) People who don't have access to TV, but have family with internet and a cheap hard drive. (rural areas, mountain regions)
    f) People who work odd hours and can't afford a dvr+digital cable for delayed viewing.

    All of these groups are downloads that would not have equated to a sale.

    a) already bought it
    b) don't think the extra 300 pixels is worth an extra $20
    c) don't have an option to buy
    d) can't afford to spend $20 on every movie they edit
    e) can't buy a show that isn't on disk. (samurai pizza cats)
    f) Can't afford the hardware, can't afford to change schedule, can't buy the disks until it's out.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @06:50PM (#39935371) Homepage

    With your argumentation "lost sale" = "theft", you could also argue, that a negative critic in the newspaper is "theft", because it causes lost sales.

    So for your information: Not every act that diminishes the perceived value of a good is theft.
    Write that 100 times.
    And then try to grasp the concept.

  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @04:26PM (#39946489)

    Agreed. Anime is the same thing. If it is not available at all in your region, I feel no qualms about pirating it. If they do not feel like distributing it to sell to me in my area, I will feel much less guilty finding a copy online. This is particularly true for Anime, where in many cases you have fan groups making subs for movies, to allow a wider audience to enjoy them. From the distributors it probably doesn't make sense, as there is not enough market anyway, however that won't stop them complaining like heck about it.

    eBooks are a joke. Same with regional iTunes. Heck, I don't know why anyone in Canada would buy a Kindle Fire when all the features are disabled unless you live in the US. I also keep hearing about the US VS Canada versions of NetFlix... I have heard of people paying a online service simply so they can spoof their IP address to a US one, so they can get the US NetFlix, apparently it puts the Canadian one to shame insofar as selection goes...

    Everyone wants to be a robber baron these days...

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle