Once Again, Online Availability Doesn't Dampen Box Office For Simpsons Movie

from the ah,-that-again dept

For years, people have been pointing out that the MPAA's fears over movie downloading are overblown. After all, the experience of watching a movie that you download is quite different from actually going to the theaters and enjoying a social night out. Yet, the folks in the movie industry continue to misunderstand this simple fact. They insist that movie piracy is destroying the business at the same time that they continually make the movie going experience worse, not better. However, the point is driven home week after week when top movies continue to do amazingly well at the box office, despite being available online. We noticed this years ago when the latest installment of Star Wars did quite well despite tons of downloads. More recently, despite entertainment industry worries that the film Sicko was available prior to release, that film also succeeded at the box office. The latest is The Simpsons' Movie, where unauthorized downloading was such a worry that the opening sequence features Bart's famous chalkboard punishment saying "I Will Not Download This Movie Illegally." Yet, not surprisingly, the movie was both widely available and widely downloaded this past weekend... and did amazingly well at the box office. So, at what point will those in the movie industry finally admit that unauthorized downloads aren't the problem they want them to be?


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  1.  
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    john, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 5:39pm

    they'll never admit

    that downloading isn't as big a problem as they make it out to be... they want to be able to use piracy as a tool to get stronger copyright protection out of dumb congressmen who are too stupid or lazy to notice that the MPAA is full of bull

     

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    niftyswell, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 6:44pm

    I downloaded it, I am going to the movie Wednesday with the wife and kids...I am going to keep the download until I can get it on DVD- I like the packaging and extras on the DVD. Wish I could buy a DVD when I go to the theatre though. The only bummer is that I always struggle getting a version on my media player that is as good as the DVD. I dont want 4 gigs clogging up my HD. I usually just put the 700mb torrent version on there...too bad I cannot download a solid version when I purchase the DVD..or the DVD doesnt come with a suitable AVI. Go ahead sue me MPAA...but I think suing your fans is really not working too well for you. The MPAA wont give me what I want and expect me to wait for it thereby punishing the people willing to pay. Thus rewarding the ones who dont, it just doesnt make a lot of sense to me. Usually 'they' follow up these comments with a paid person all concerned about the industry after one of these stories come out...cannot wait to see the reply.

     

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    Paul, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 7:19pm

    The latest is The Simpsons' Movie, where unauthorized downloading was such a worry that the opening sequence features Bart's famous chalkboard punishment saying "I Will Not Download This Movie Illegally."

    It's called humor, not worry. You might have noticed the movie was filled with it.

     

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    ScytheNoire, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 8:39pm

    it's all about control

    It's about controlling the content. They lack the control when it's online, even though it's a better form of delivery, cheaper for them, faster for the consumer, they don't know how to use the technology properly and are missing the boat, yet again, as they always seem to do when new technology emerges.

    So of course they are wrong, they've been wrong every time in the past, but they can't see past their own bullshit and lies and will never admit the truth. Online "piracy" has only helped the industries, not hurt it. I know personally I have made purchases because of something I downloaded, many times. I would've never made those purchases had I not downloaded the content, that I would otherwise not have known about. But thanks to downloads, I've made those purchases.

    Recent purchases for pre-release of Dexter (Season One Aug 21), Heroes (Season One Aug 28) and Robot Chicken (Season Two Sept 4) are all DVD's I wouldn't have been purchasing if I didn't get to download those TV Shows. But I either didn't get to watch them when they came out, or wouldn't even know about them, if I didn't get to download them. Thankfully, the download community let's you know what is good, and what is worth watching.

    Funniest part, the industries use download statics to monitor and know what is popular and is doing well. They use it like Neilson ratings, and in fact, it's more useful, since it's real time and represents a wider audience. So funny they are using what they fight against as a marketing tool. Yet they'll never admit to it, they use third party companies to do their dirty work.

     

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  5.  
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    Jeff, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 6:50am

    .

    Good to hear, as I downloaded it. I WAS going to buy the DVD until I got to about 2:30 in the movie...Matt Groening is a dick.

     

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    Martin O'B (profile), Aug 1st, 2007 @ 7:21am

    I've done it before

    In early 1999, when 'The Matrix' came out, I downloaded about 3-4 different versions of it. I'd burn it & bring it home, and my brother would sit down and watch it with me. About 20 minutes into it, one of us would call the theater and see what showtimes were still available that night.

    In the end, I ended up seeing it in the theater AT LEAST 6 times. Yah, piracy really cost the studio on that one!

     

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  7.  
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    Jeremy, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 7:36am

    Its not the good movies they are worried about,

    Its the $hitty ones. Good movies, like the Simpsons, 300 (some would argue good), Sin City and others are going to make a ton of money at the box office. Its because they are well made, good plot-lines, etc. It has nothing to do with the availability of online downloads. I will probably download Simpsons after seeing it the theater and will definitely buy the dvd when it comes out (I have all 9 dvd seasons and am waiting for the next one).

    However, if the movie just sucks (Gigli, etc), then the MPAA can complain that illegal downloads are what caused the movie to not make any money, not the fack that that movie was horribly made.

     

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  8.  
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    Mike G, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 8:55am

    Studios need an excuse...

    Studios will never admit that piracy is insignificant as they often use it as a crutch to explain bad box office numbers.

    Hostel 2 was a crap movie. It was available online prior to the opening. It bombed at the box office. Instead of admitting that it was a crap slasher movie opening up against stiff competition during the summer blockbuster season, the director came out afterwards and said it bombed because of piracy. All those who were going to pay for it, already downloaded it.

    Convienient, eh?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Who the fuck is going to spend $10 to watch a 70 minute movie that is nothing more than a longer version of a television show that hasn't been relevant for a decade and that usually receives an "oh, that's still on?" whenever you mention it to someone?

    Not to mention, Mat Groening and gang fucked over his real hometown fans by letting the "real Springfield" where the movie premiered be in VERMONT, instead of Springfield and Portland OREGON where he was born, grew up and everything is named after.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 1:26pm

    Re:

    You are an idiot.

     

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  11.  
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    John, Aug 1st, 2007 @ 4:35pm

    Yes, but

    Yes, but how much more money would the Simpsons have made without those blasted pirates?
    After all, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 could have made five gazillion dollars if it weren't for pirates!

    Hostel 2 and Captivity would have made $250 million if it weren't for those nasty critics, um, I mean, pirates. Yeah, those movies did poorly because of the pirates, not because they were bad movies.

     

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  12.  
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    TechDirtSux, Aug 2nd, 2007 @ 11:12am

    Stupid, Reckless TechDirt at it again...

    So I guess as long as Toyota is profitable we shouldn't feel bad if a few cars get stolen off their lots?

    Dip$hits at TechDirt!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 1:29am

    the real problem

    If the movie industry wants to know what hurts their business, I’ll tell them. It’s not me downloading a movie, it’s the fact that my son is only two and the wife and I haven’t been able to “just go to the movies.”

    We use to be avid movie goers, at least three or four movies per month if not more, when my son was born that all changed, but not the desire. When we get the chance we love going to the theater, price isn’t that big of deal, it never was, it’s simply a matter of opportunity. Now we have to coordinate our schedule line up a sitter, and pick a time to be back before it’s too late.

    Now we just wait for DVD release, if it’s really something I want to see (300/Transformers) I’ll look for a download and guess what, they were so good we decided to actually see them on the big screen just for the effect. “300” came out Tuesday, guess what I bought.

    So, some kid filming a movie is not the problem folks, mass black markets like China and Yugoslavia are your worries and half the time those are leaked Hollywood screeners. Don’t be like the RIAA, your customers are still with you; do not alienate another form of media entertainment for unfounded worries of internet downloads.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:20am

    Re: Stupid, Reckless TechDirt at it again...

    There's the token comment from the corporate shill.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re:

    Yes he is.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 3rd, 2007 @ 8:11am

    Downloading is Good for Parents

    I use downloading to pre-screen movies that my kids want to see. I can't see paying $10 to see a movie just to determine if it is OK for my kids.

     

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  17.  
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    Calix, Aug 8th, 2007 @ 2:59pm

    Record profits once again!

    As a recent convert to Techdirt, I've been digging through the archives, particularly interested in comments on my industry (entertainment.) While the AMPTP and the MPAA like to cry poor, the WGAw has had a vested interest of late in pointing out that the film industry, once again, has enjoyed record profits and BO receipts this summer.

    For example, just moments ago I got a "breaking news" bulletin from the Hollywood Reporter that "News Corp's film unit brought in another record operating profit for its latest fiscal year at $1.2 billion, even though the division reported lower fiscal fourth-quarter results Wednesday. Overall, News Corp. reported a fiscal fourth-quarter profit from continuing operations of $890 million."

    It actually fits into Mike's evangelizing of the economics of non-scarcity driving the sale of the scarce components. While the MPAA continues to cry "wolf!" about illegal downloads, in practice movie producers are creating more and more movies which are best enjoyed in the theatrical environment (the tentpole blockbuster, see Transformers, etc.) and reaping record BO for their efforts. Certainly the volume of ticket sales is down (that is, fewer and fewer butts in the seats) but rising ticket prices prove that the scarce commodity - the theatrical experience - is still very valuable. And while theatrical BO only accounts for about 20% of a film's lifetime revenue stream, theatrical BO drives the rest of the train (such as determining what a television network is likely to pay for the opportunity to premiere the movie, for example.)

    The one thing I'd love to hear you address, Mike, is how the larger corporate marketplace (radio airplay for music, theatrical for film) drives the "underground" market. People aren't rushing to download copies of, say, "Squad 77" (an indie microbudget film by an acquaintance of mine), they're rushing to download, well, "Rush Hour 3", not because one is more intrinsically valuable than the other (like you point out, downloading either one is free, albeit illegal) but because there is a helluva lot more marketing driving consumers to Brett Ratner's latest opus. (Admittedly, "Rush Hour 3" also has better production and artistic value all around.)

    But marketing, paid for and driven by theatrical BO, drives the demand for the "infinite" component, the free download. Likewise, marketing (radio airplay, MTV airplay, etc.) drives the demand for the "infinite" component of music downloads - again, people aren't downloading (legally or illegally) the latest unknown indie band, they're downloading (legally and illegally) the latest corporate offerings.

    How does the new entrepreneur achieve the critical market mass needed to drive the demand for the "scarce" components of the product without the revenue stream provided by the corporate marketplace to pay for the marketing needed to create that demand for even the “infinite and free” product in the first place?

     

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