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Piracy Fails To Prevent Another Box Office Record (torrentfreak.com) 221

An anonymous reader writes: The movie industry has reported global box office records reached $38.4 billion in 2015, up 5% on 2014's total, according to the MPAA's Theatrical Market Statistics report. The U.S. and Canada turned in $11.1 billion with international box office revenues hitting $27.2 billion. "I'm proud to say that the state of our industry has never been stronger," the former U.S. senator, MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said. "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of the movies has been greatly exaggerated," Dodd said. It begs the question whether or not piracy is truly killing the movie business -- the MPAA insists it is. According to Dodd, the box office would be more healthy to the tune of $1.5 billion if piracy could be brought under control. Some possible theories to achieve such a goal would be based off making content more readily available to the consumer. Napster co-found Sean Parker has a Screening Room project which hopes to bring first-run movies into the home via a set-top box. Though it has a trick up its sleeve: Customers prepared to pay the required $50 to watch at home would get two tickets to watch the movie in the cinema, which could either boost or at least maintain box office attendance. The Art House Convergence (AHC) said it "strongly opposes" the plan, warning it would only fuel torrent sites and piracy. National Assosciation of Theatre Owners chief John Fithian said, "More sophisticated window modeling may be needed for the growing success of a modern movie industry."
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Piracy Fails To Prevent Another Box Office Record

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:09PM (#51903217)

    "Some possible theories to achieve such a goal would be based off making content more readily available to the consumer."

    Great idea!

    "Customers prepared to pay the required $50 to watch at home....."

    uh oh, I see more black sails on the horizon...

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:24PM (#51903343)

      I can certainly see multi-millionaires paying $50 so they can watch a newly released film in their private 40 seat theater in their beach house in hawaii.

      I on the other hand balk at the fact that a 10 year old tv show is still $25/season (for SD).

      • I can see myself waiting a few months and paying $1.50 to rent the dvd from redbox. I still haven't seen the force awakens but it's at redbox so probably this weekend.
        As for 10 year old tv shows netflix or hulu because $25/season is more than I'm willing to pay.

        • There are very few movies I am willing to sit in a crowded theater for. My biggest complaint is the formulaic nature of most films these days.

          I was watching a movie (at home) and said to my daughter "hey, I haven't seen the cat in a while", and the very next scene? The cat. We both laughed. However it emphasizes my point that the movie was so predictable that it was laughable.

          Save your money, and watch Episode IV instead. Basically the same movie, with new players (and some old ones) and a few minor tweaks.

          • There are very few movies I am willing to sit in a crowded theater for.

            If you went to the right crowded cinema, you'd get Finn (well Boyega) running up and down the aisle high fiving people at the right places. I think that would add something to it. I went to see it at that cinema (can't argue with tickets for a fiver), but not, sadly one of the screenings that he turned up for.

            Being in a crowded cinema can add a lot of atmosphere to a film.

            My biggest complaint is the formulaic nature of most films these d

            • Movie theater pros:
              Big screen

              Movie theater cons:
              Poor contrast ratios.
              Sub part seats
              Fixed schedule.
              No ability to pause for urination.
              Terrible food
              Expensive food.
              Impolite movie patrons.
              Sub part equipment or poorly trained operators ruining the experience.
              Can't go to the movie theater in my underwear.

              I stopped going when I got my first 50 inch tv.

              • Any yet I and many others still like going to the cinema even though large screens and good sound systems are cheap now. I guess you must have missed a few things.

                For example:
                * Large audience annd atmosphere to the film
                * You get to see the films sooner
                * Draught ale on tap [depends on the cinema. My closest one has, the cheap one doesn't]
                * No urination breaks + inability to go in your underwear + fixed schedule makes it much harder to drift off and start doing/thinking about other things in the film, so watc

      • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @09:32PM (#51905097) Journal

        I on the other hand balk at the fact that a 10 year old tv show is still $25/season (for SD).

        In their defense, 10 years ago many shows were shot on video tape in SD (or maybe a little better) because it was going to air in SD and people would be watching it in SD and why spend the extra money to do film?

        As an old example, the original Star Trek was shot on film. They did this originally because there wasn't an easy way to do special effects with video tape. But everything was optimized for an SD screen. 50 years later, they still had the high resolution film, so they could start with that and redo the special effects, fix some of the background issues (e.g. walls painted with chalk that is blatantly obvious in HD), and come up with something pretty good.

        But, at least as I understand it, Star Trek: The Next Generation was shot on video tape because, by 1987, they could do visual effects on a computer. So there is no "high resolution master" for TNG episodes. I believe that's also true with Deep Space 9 and Voyager. I think the second season of Enterprise was the first to actually film with High-Def cameras.

        Personally, I agree with you. I balk at paying $25 for an old TV Show--even a favorite. But in regards to SD/HD, they may not really have a choice...

    • by labnet ( 457441 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @06:03PM (#51903995)

      *this*
      The MPAA are business idiots.
      If the MPAA ran a supermarket, they would say :
      Hey, 2% of stuff is STOLEN.... let's put everything in locked glass shelves, then suddenly find out that the 50% reduction in sales (because it is now too inconvenient) dwarfs the now 1% that is being stolen.
      Most people don't want to steal, but they do want convenience and a reasonable price.

  • by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:10PM (#51903231)

    I don't illegally download movies.

    I have a gigantic DVD collection. I found out the pawn shop near me sells used dvds for a buck each. and BluRay are 3 for ten.

    Don't care what model they go for. Somebody already paid for my movie. :)

  • Deadpool (Score:5, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:12PM (#51903233) Journal

    Considering Deadpool has alone has made over $750 million dollars globally, on a budget of less than $60 million, and that's not counting big blockbusters of late like Star Wars VII and even Batman vs Superman, I think claims of the movie industry's demise are heavily overstated. Hell, Deadpool and Star Wars are still playing on screens near where I live.

    Yes, there have been flops, but I doubt anyone can link those flops to pirating.

    • Re:Deadpool (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:26PM (#51903365)
      Considering Deadpool has alone has made over $750 million dollars globally, on a budget of less than $60 million

      Not when you factor "Hollywood accounting" into it. This is an industry that goes to great, creative lengths to screw people out of money they're contractually entitled to, and they want us to feel sorry for them. When the MPAA execs start being honest with the people that actually make the movies that line their pockets, I'll start taking them a little more seriously. Until then, I have the world's smallest violin playing just for them.
    • "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of the movies has been greatly exaggerated," Dodd said.

      Truly. Our local multiplex has switched over to a "All super heroes, all the time" format. And the local 13-year-olds couldn't be happier.

      And the roster of 13 superhero TV shows are making this "The Golden Age of Television".

    • People like to watch new movies in the theatre. Piracy doesn't affect that. It might affect home video sales but if they've already made a profit, home video sales are just gravy. Kindof like musicians make a majority of their money from live shows. The movie industry already knows this. That's why they give out free copies of previous movies on various streaming sites right before the sequel comes out. Let's just make home videos free and be done with it.

      • How long has being able to own a personal copy of a movie been around. I know home VCRs have been around since the 1970s, but the cost of buying a videotape even in the 1980s was pretty darned high. I don't think it became common to have large personal movie libraries until the 1990s. So really, the whole personal copy angle has been around maybe 20 or 25 years, a small portion of the amount of time the film industry has been around. I get that DVD sales may be dropping, and you're right, it has been just g

    • Considering Deadpool has alone has made over $750 million dollars globally, on a budget of less than $60 million, and that's not counting big blockbusters of late like Star Wars VII and even Batman vs Superman, I think claims of the movie industry's demise are heavily overstated.

      While I agree that the industry claims are overstated, it's important to note that the movies that make many times their budget are rather rare. The cost of making -- and often more importantly, marketing -- a movie these days are often quite significant. They don't have to be, and many "independent" films manage to be made on a shoestring budget with rather high quality nowadays.

      But lots of mainstream Hollywood films have budgets in excess of $100 million, and they might spend that much or more on mark

      • By the way, before anyone calls me out on this, I was somewhat joking about the title "assistant deputy key grip," making fun of the hierarchical set of titles often running within closing credits. Obviously anyone who knows much about film crews will know such a title is a bit nonsensical, though I wouldn't put it past someone in Hollywood to create such a position.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      So how about another question, is it a waste of planetary resources in it's current format and should be eliminated. Perhaps to much of the planets resources are being consumed by it and it produces nothing but empty entertainment. Should it be limited, should copyright be cut back or even eliminated where the content produced does not further the sciences or human society, should it be purposefully reduced and minimised because it quite simply wastes to much of our shared resources. Perhaps the content to

  • . . .since that's not what "begs the question" means. [begthequestion.info]

    Yeah, yeah, I know, the meaning of words and phrases change over time, grammar nazi, blah blah blah. But the simple fact is that there are LOTS of other phrases that mean what you're trying to say when you misuse "begs the question" and that are thus available to you; but there's no other succinct phrase in English that means what "begs the question" actually means. Re-purposing that phrase weakens the language: it takes away the only useful expressi

    • Not to mention the correct phrase "raises the question" isn't that much more of an effort to type/write.
    • there's no other succinct phrase in English that means what "begs the question" actually means

      Says you. How about "presuming the conclusion". Which is actually a wording that is self-explanatory and makes sense.

      As opposed to "begs the question", which intuitively means exactly what people use it for, "demands the question". What a crazy interpretation, right? It's almost like "beg" and "demand" are similar in meaning or something.

      The original meaning of "begs the question" is de facto useless, because nob

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:18PM (#51903289)

    If they are only claiming a little over 5% loss to piracy, they likely aren't accounting for the greater than 5% increase from the engagement that piracy creates.

    People who "never watch movies" are simply out of the picture, but when these same people watch 20 movies through piracy and then pay to watch 2 or 3 through legitimate channels, that's a net win for the industry.

  • Almost every single rationalization or justification that I've ever heard for why a person might pirate, other than supporting the abolition of copyright entirely, can be found on the list of ethical fallacies [ethicsscoreboard.com], and it gives a person some measure of pause to at least carefully consider the premise that just because one *can* do something, does not necessarily mean that they *should*.

    I'm probably going to modded into slashdot hell for saying this, but that these alleged studies that somehow show that piracy

    • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:42PM (#51903483)

      Copyright should be a good thing. It's called copy right, as in "the right to make a copy". But in a few decades, Hollywood, the MPPA, the RIAA and Disney butchered copyright laws to a point where the spirit of it isn't even there anymore. They've twisted it into "it's only to protect us, screw everyone else and screw the public domain".

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Actually, more specifically the copyright is the right to *control* who else may make copies. If it were simply the right to make a copy, then a portion of that right would be implicitly surrendered whenever a copyright holder granted permission to anyone else to make even an entirely authorized copy, but that is not the case.
    • I don't believe that terrorism is such a threat to US citizens that it's worth the cost of our government spying on us or eroding our personal liberties. I'm also highly skeptical of those in government who keep beating the drumbeat of the terrorism threat in an effort to acquire more power for unilateral action. Such a position doesn't mean that I'm endorsing terrorism.

      Likewise, do you understand that one might not hold a great deal of sympathy for the MPAA or their claims of how much piracy is hurting t

      • What content? Yours is an attitude I would like to support.
        • I'm an independent videogame developer. Unfortunately, I'm still at least a year from finishing up my title, but thanks for the sentiment. To be honest, I was inspired by Brad Wardell, president and CEO of StarDock, who espoused a similar view years ago:

          http://www.ign.com/articles/20... [ign.com]

          I'm hoping someday I can also prove the naysayers wrong by offering fun, affordable, DRM-free titles and making a good living doing it. The way I figure it, the industry isn't going to change itself.

    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      I believe copyright, as it was originally defined, to be a good thing. I am probably a "pirate" to the various *AAs because, by some unholy means, I make personal copies of works and transfer them to other mediums to increase my enjoyment of my collection. If you read the copyright notice you can't get around on any disk, unless, of course, you flaunt the DMCA via some other nefarious means, such as recording the portion you want to see or merely walking to the kitchen for a refreshing beverage or the toile
    • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @05:08PM (#51903671)

      if one believes that copyright is a good thing at all, then one has a ethical obligation to respect it, even if they do not agree with the means by which it is being implemented

      Absolutely not.

      Nobody has an ethical obligation to support every aspect of a law just because they support one part of it. The fact that the constitution included a process for adding amendments should make it clear that unquestioning obedience to the law was never the intent of our legal system.

      We're quite capable of acknowledging that copyright has benefited society while still recognizing that parts of copyright law have been expanded far beyond the original intent in ways that now cause harm.

    • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @05:09PM (#51903679) Homepage Journal

      ...can be found on the list of ethical fallacies, [ ... ]

      If you pirate, you either advocate the complete abolition of copyright or are a hypocrite. Period.

      False dilemma.

    • by dissy ( 172727 )

      if one believes that copyright is a good thing at all, then one has a ethical obligation to respect it, even if they do not agree with the means by which it is being implemented. If you pirate, you either advocate the complete abolition of copyright or are a hypocrite. Period.

      That's a false statement.

      I can have exactly zero respect for our current implementation of copyright law, while believing copyright as originally intended is indeed a good thing, while also at the same time not pirating anything.

      Because that is exactly what I do.

    • What if you only copy things after the 14 + 14 year duration that US copyright law originally had?

      If you support copyright as originally laid down, and obey it, but think that the copyright contract between public and producers has been unilaterally and unfairly altered to the detriment of the public?

      Are you still a hypocrite then?

    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @06:36PM (#51904169)

      Oh please. False Dichotomy [wikipedia.org] much?

      . /Oblg. DVD vs Piracy [imgur.com]

      People pirate for a variety of reasons. Such as:

      1. One can't legally buy a copy. Piracy is the *only* option to watch it.
      2. Artificial Scarcity. If a DVD/BluRay is not available in my region, piracy is simply more convenient
      3. They can't afford it.
      4. If a borrow a movie from a library, watch it, and then return it this has the exact same effect as if I had borrowed a movie from the library, made a copy, returned the original, and watch my copy later, except the former is legal, yet the latter is "magically" illegal
      5. Piracy is the delusion that "copying numbers is illegal". How stupid is Civilization when it has declared Illegal Numbers [wikipedia.org] !?!? /sarcasm Those pesky Mathematicians! They are the cause of the downfall of society!

      To everyone who plays the bullshit piracy-is-illegal card here are some questions for you:

      Q. If your friend buys a DVD and loans it to you, is it piracy if you watch it? You never paid for the content.
      Q. How many friends can I loan my DVD / BluRay to before it becomes piracy?
      Q. Why is it OK if I personally loan it to friends, but I can't share my copy with strangers?
      Q. How "long" do I have to know a person before I can legally share my copy?
      Q. Are libraries engaging in piracy?

      Do I personally pirate? No, as I like having my own personal library so I don't mind buying BluRays / DVDs. If I can't buy it, I'll just wait until it is available. But my reasons for why I _don't_ pirate may not work for someone who _does_.

      > copyright is a good thing at all, then one has a ethical obligation to respect it,

      1. When Copyright was only ~20 years, sure, I have no problem following that but when the law has become corrupt that something that _would_ become "public domain" will NEVER reach that status, then there is higher obligation:

      Civil Disobedience is the only way to change to corrupt laws.

      2. Rosa Parks [wikipedia.org] would like to have some of what you are smoking. Laws are NOT absolutes. That is why they _change over time_.

      Personally, abolish copyright, because it is no longer server its original purpose:

      One major purpose of Copyright Law is to "promote the progress of the sciences and useful arts", in other words knowledge.

      So no, we're not ethically bound to follow bullshit artificial laws.

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        I'll reference fallacies by the name given in the ethicscoreboard.

        1. One can't legally buy a copy. Piracy is the *only* option to watch it.

        Woody's Excuse.

        2. Artificial Scarcity. If a DVD/BluRay is not available in my region, piracy is simply more convenient

        Tit for Tat.

        3. They can't afford it.

        And that somehow makes it right? Variation of the Saint's License.

        4. If a borrow a movie from a library, watch it, and then return it this has the exact same effect as if I had borrowed a movie from the library, made

    • by delt0r ( 999393 )
      Fuck ethics. I want to watch a move. Hmm not on Netflix in my area? Oh look bittorrent is, thanks for playing.

      If Hollywood ran out of money and shut down tomorrow. The world would probably be a better place anyway. After all there are always lol cats on youtube :P.
  • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @04:38PM (#51903459)

    Is this guy insane? I only pay $9 for Netflix and I can watch a lot of movies for that low price. Sure, I have to wait months or even years, but in the end I've watched the same movies as everybody else. My money is better spent elsewhere, like rent and food.

    • Is this guy insane?

      Completely... unless he's targeting a different demographic than you're assuming. How many people have dumped thousands into relatively-decent* home theater setups and would love to watch first-run movies in the comfort of their own homes, and we're not even talking about much of a premium, cost-wise; think about how much tickets, popcorn and flavored-corn-syrup-diluted-with-carbonated-pool-water for four people typically costs.

      *It doesn't take much to assemble a system that'll put the typical "nice" theat

  • Get lost. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @05:00PM (#51903627) Homepage

    And householders would be 1.5bn better off if they didn't have to fit locks, and alarms, and other security.

    And airports would be 1.5bn better off if there wasn't terrorism.

    And countries would be BILLIONS better off if people just got off their arses and got a job, and paid taxes honestly.

    But none of that is going to happen. You have legislation in place to combat all those. For copyright, It's already disproportionally harsh, and enforced where necessary (i.e. mass duplicators, and those people who are brought to court reasonably for deliberately downloading movies they haven't paid for).

    Stop whining, get off your arses and focus on making movies.

    Hint: Not been to a cinema in years. Don't buy DVD's any more, unless it's second-hand and thereby not profitable for you at all. Will pay a reasonable price for legal download rights for stuff I consider worthwhile in a half-playable format.

    The reason you're not making all that you could? That shit you put into the cinema and flood everything else out with. That crap you enforce on your media and streams. The bollocks that you make me sit through on legally owned media.

    I do not pirate. I pay for things. I paid for my shareware in the 90's (yes, I own mIRC, WinZIP, Doom and lots of other things that nobody ever paid for). I paid for proper licensing for commercial software of those things I used "for personal use" that were more than worth the money (VMWare was worth its hefty price and that's the MOST I've ever paid for software). I donate to software projects that I have no need to. I buy copies of good games for friends and give them out at Christmas, birthdays, special occasions and even run competitions on my game servers that I run FOR FREE for various communities. I have no qualms about handing over money for the legal right to play content that I *could* acquire elsewhere and supporting things I enjoyed myself.

    But all that shit you do? It makes me choose between supporting that side of the shit, or pirating, if I want to watch it. So I choose not to watch it instead.

    Honestly, best thing of buying a handful of movies with "free" credit from Amazon / Google Play? No unskippable trailers. Play from a multitude of devices, when I want, where I want, how I want. I don't even care that the downloads are DRM'd, to be honest, I have 1000 Steam games and that doesn't bother me either.

    But it's the shit that GETS IN THE WAY that really bugs me. Software updates to BluRay players in order to watch a movie? Fuck that. I press play, I want to watch it. Wait MONTHS for a movie I do want to see to come out somewhere other than the cinema? I'd rather just forget about it and pick it up when it comes out as a "freebie" movie on some download service if you're going to deliberately stymie my initial enthusiasm for it. DVD's that don't play in laptops? Fuck off. And TEN MINUTES of fucking trailers that I can't skip when I just want to put on a Disney movie to occupy a child? That's just fucking evil. So I stopped buying them.

    Stop whining about how unfair the world is, because copyright infringement is part-and-parcel of your industry the same way that "No the parcel never arrived" is part-and-parcel of running a mail order business. Sometimes it could be honest, sometimes it could be fraudulent. But you can't piss away your profits chasing it except in obvious - or large - cases and most people just can't be bothered to go to the effort of pirating things anyway. That's why Netflix et al are so popular. And why iTunes makes a killing even though ANY song you want is available on the first page of Google if you put in "mp3" into it. But navigating the mire of illegal downloads is beyond most people. They'd rather just have one place to go, pay, and download their content in a format they'd like.

    iTunes lost the MP3 battle. How long until you lose the "H264" battle where you just end up providing DRM-free copies of anything people have bought a license to?

    Honestly,

  • Here are some suggestions for the MPAA as ways they can reduce the piracy of their films:
    1.Stop making tickets so expensive. Every time ticket prices go up, there will be people who now say "I am not paying that much to see xyz movie, I will pirate it instead". Reducing ticket prices will (all other things being equal) lead to more bums in seats and more revenue for the studios.
    2.Eliminate the delays between the worldwide release of a film and the local release of a film in various countries (last years mov

  • Maybe instead of focusing on dollar amounts, they should focus on the ratio of tickets available (seats in theatre * showings/day * days) to the number of tickets sold. After all, with ticket prices the way they are now there is no comparing a movie from the 70s - lets say Star Wars on opening weekend at a whopping 1.5 million, essentially petty cash in todays numbers - to anything released today. Oh, but the first SW movie was unknown - but Empire Strikes Back grossed a big $4.9 million on its opening we

  • by jitterman ( 987991 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @06:05PM (#51904007)
    For goodness' sake. Not taking inflation (even modest 1.5-2% matters) and / or higher ticket prices into account makes - as all higher-functioning life forms know (which apparently includes very few people who work in the higher levels of the Hollywood) - any claims of "ALL TIME HIGHEST" just a meaningless bunch of pablum, like many of the industry's products themselves.
  • Claiming piracy is hurting the movie business is like claiming street drugs are hurting the pharmaceutical business. In both cases, people partaking in the illicit activity are unlikely to be participating in the licit one.

  • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) on Wednesday April 13, 2016 @06:50PM (#51904231)

    FTA: former U.S. senator, MPAA chairman and CEO Chris Dodd said. "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of the movies has been greatly exaggerated," Dodd said. It begs the question whether or not piracy is truly killing the movie business -- the MPAA insists it is.

    He actually spoke the truth – unintentionally.

    To "beg the question" means to "use circular logic". As in, when you are accusing someone of making BS arguments that rely on their initial (wrong) assumption.

    Who would have thought that the MPAA CEO would actually speak the truth about 'piracy'?

  • According to Dodd, the box office would be more healthy to the tune of $1.5 billion if piracy could be brought under control.

    And if Hollywood hired ME to make movies instead of this DiCaprio fellow, I'd be richer by quite a few million too.

  • by Torp ( 199297 )

    Does this press release pretend there are movies worth watching still made?
    I haven't noticed more than 1-2 per year lately. It's a miracle they're still making money.

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