Once Again, As The MPAA Whines About 'Piracy,' It Had Record Results At The Box Office

from the oh-look-at-that dept

There were reports late last year that the box office take for the movie industry was finally set to decline after years of records. It appeared that there just weren't that many big blockbuster hits last year, that many thought really hurt the industry. However, now that the numbers are out, it appears that, once again, the box office take has set a new record. And yet the MPAA still claims that its number one priority is "fighting piracy"? Why?

Obviously, some will point out that the DVD business isn't as strong as it once was, though it's unclear how much of that may be a result of new business models like Netflix and Redbox, as compared to file sharing. That said, I laugh any time the movie industry folks point to the DVD market as the reason they have to fight piracy. I mean, it was just 25 years ago that Jack Valenti was declaring the VCR was going to be "the Boston Strangler" to Hollywood. And yet, now, the home video market is its lifeline? Sorry, but hasn't the industry cried wolf a few too many times?

The simple fact is that there are all sorts of business model opportunities for the movie industry. Theater showings (the seats and the social experience are great scarcities that sell well) is one such model. Services like Netflix where you're paying for "access" and "convenience" rather than content, is another. There are plenty of others as well, for those who wish to explore them. Shouldn't the MPAA's "number one priority" be to help the industry figure out these opportunities, rather than worrying about "piracy"?


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  1.  
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    Christopher (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    Agreed on the MPAA calling wolf way too many times today. The fact is that they keep on whining about piracy to deflect attention away from the fact that their offerings are vastly overpriced.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    fingers in ears

    La LA LA LAAAA!

    Piracy is destroying our industry

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:43pm

    Perhaps it is just me, but part of the tone set here seems to be "Why are they whining? They made gobs of cash."

    That does not seem to me to be a very compelling argument.

     

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    Anonymous, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re:

    Didn't you hear? According to Techdirt, if you make a profit, then it's ok for your product to be ripped off and bad to complain about it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    It all makes perfect sense in the strange parallel universe where the MPAA and the studios exist.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Yes and No

    "Sorry, but hasn't the industry cried wolf a few too many times?"

    Most people don't remember back far enough to see all the instances you're referring to (and Ars Technica had a nice history of); especially given that some of this predates any living person.

    That said, it looks like lawmakers and the judicial systems in numerous countries are slowly wising up to the tactics used by the industry in the last several years, and it's in that short-term time-span that crying wolf so many times may end up coming back to bite them.

     

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    David Liu (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    I think the bigger argument Mike is making is that clearly there's money to be made and piracy is not as big of an issue as the MPAA thinks it is. Instead of putting piracy as it's #1 priority, the MPAA should be focusing on why it's still making money and expanding that goal.

    Mike's not saying that the MPAA should be grateful for what it's getting and shut up. It's saying that the MPAA could be doing smarter things with their time and money.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Didn't you hear? According to Hollywood, if you can't use the laws already in place to combat piracy, then it's okay for the taxpayers to pay for it instead.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Except that Mike left out the very important, very key information from the story:

    the total number of tickets sold fell by 5 percent last year, but theater owners made up for the decline by raising prices an average of 39˘.

    That's the kicker - even with the price increased because of more 3D films, they sold 5% less seats. The public will not tolerate endless price rises, so unless they start selling more tickets again, well... you know the rest. Supply appears to be outstripping demand, and even Mike knows what happens when you do that.

    Nice try on the spin Mike, but you ignored the key data (again).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I wonder what would happen if they lowered their prices? Or are they not allowed to do that?

     

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    The eejit (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    How? They made more money last year in revenues. How does this invalidate Mike's argument? Maybe those fewer people had less disposable income. Or maybe it was those goddamned Somalian pirates stealing wares to merely survive.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

    Re:

    "Perhaps it is just me, but part of the tone set here seems to be "Why are they whining? They made gobs of cash."

    That does not seem to me to be a very compelling argument."

    The argument from the industry is that piracy has been destroying it.

    With successive years of record breaking box office, it is quite an achievement to maintain that stance and quite obviously untrue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They made more money last year in revenues. How does this invalidate Mike's argument?

    It invalidates it because there is a clear indication that fewer people are buying tickets. It's just like the concert business - fewer people buying more expensive tickets. Any economist can tell you that this is not a long term supportable model, especially if your customer base is slipping away. You keep shaving away 5% a year, and pretty soon the movie theaters are mostly empty, and the people paying $30 a ticket wonder why they do it.

    So pointing only to revenue is extremely short term thinking. Then again, that seems to be a common way to look at things here, very, very short term.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Damn right it's short term thinking. Ticket sales may only be down 5% this year, but in 50 years Hollywood will be giving away 1.5x what it's currently earning in revenue. Only a complete idiot could expect anyone to conduct business in such dire financial conditions.

     

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    Nick Dynice (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    The movie industry was not given a divine right to grow endlessly. If they make less money, so be it. The market decides. It is not the end of the world. And this certainly not a reason to invade out privacy.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Correction: in 50 years Hollywood will be giving away 1.5x as many tickets as it currently sells.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Because I absolutely want to go to the theater and spend my whole paycheck there. If prices were reasonable, I'd go to a theater.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    ever think that the reason they sell less seats is the fact that i don't know, i have a 40" HDTV at home that is a better picture quality and overall experience than the fucking theater?

    yea, i love having someone talking through a movie i paid $10 a ticket for. oh yea, how about some quality content too?

    i really hope the video game market eclipses the movie market and kills that off the MPAA/RIAA. what do they make money doing? oh yea, sueing people.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Amusing, but you make it clear you didn't bother to look at the numbers.

    http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/653b11ee-ee84-4b56-8ef1-3c17de30df1e.pdf

    Attendance has dropped over the last 10 years, from a peak of 1.57 billion tickets in 2002 to 1.34 billion this year - 230 million less tickets. More importantly (see page 6) the number of people attending movies (on a per capita has dropped from 5.2 to 4.1, a 20% drop.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:25pm

    Re:

    Nick, that would be true only if people weren't pirating the movies and consuming them anyway.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe they should lower their prices?

     

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    lux (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

    Hm

    Mike, you seem a bit naive (or gleefully ignorant!) of the fact that no matter how much money the movie industry pulls in, record-breaking or otherwise, it will always claim that piracy is eating away at its bottom line. And obviously whether that's true is the entire rub: some claim more exposure leads to more sales, other clearly see piracy as a lost sale, and not free advertising as it were.

    But I'm not sure the argument being made here is entirely fair, since it doesn't try to understand the MPAA side of the story...that said, it's clear they only want _more_ money. Obviously the MPAA tracks its books, and it knows its seeing booming profits, so why claim piracy is hurting sales? Because they want more money!

    Again, there's no need to paint the MPAA as a bunch of bumbling suits who can't turn on a computer. They are clearly a bunch of smart folks, who can earn a buck, and they've been doing it for a very, very long time. And even in the face of all these technological disruptions, they are still killing profits - so let's give credit where credit is due, and realize that these people just want MONEY.

    They may play stupid and scream, "Those pesky kids on their interwebz are stealing my music, so please Congress do something!" But we all know this is a ploy, they are smart, they can clearly see piracy is not a large a problem as once thought, but why let the facts get in the way of legislation.

     

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    illDecree (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    [Citation Needed]

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, a shaky blur-infested overly dark camcorder recording is considered consuming it.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You have a point. I mean, just look at the revenue per capita numbers of the music industry (adjusted for inflation): internet piracy absolutely DESTROYED the music industry between 1978 and 1983.

    I hate to break it to you, but markets rise and markets fall - especially in global recessions - and have been doing so far longer than internet piracy has been around to blame it on. Show me a graph with data specifically chosen to show some trend and I can probably show you a longer-term graph showing the exact opposite trend.

     

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    johnny canada, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:08pm

    The MPAA has found a way to fight piracy.

    Make lousy movies that people will not even download for free.

    (I downloaded Green Horten two months ago and still have not watched it)

     

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  27.  
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    Joe (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Or improve the content. Most of the stuff they turn out now sucks. Couple that with the higher prices, I'm surprised they made any money.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    Re:

    Making movies so bad people will not even download them for free is harder than it sounds. History predating both the internet and movies has shown us that people will take for free things they don't need and many times don't even use (watch, in this context).

     

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  29.  
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    Planespotter (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re:

    But would the people have paid to go and see the movie if they hadn't been able to download a CAM or TS rip of it? I'm pretty damn sure, given the current financial climate that the answer to that is NO. All businesses have good times and bad times, the Movie Industry is increasing prices to try and balance the drop in ticket sales, how about rather than charging 100 people an extra 50 cents to get them into the theatre they drop the price by $2 and fill the theatre and make more money off food and drink? If you expect to pay $15 for a night at the cinema and that only covers your ticket your going to take your own snacks and drink, if you get to the cinema and find the ticket price has dropped to $8 suddenly you have $7 left in your wallet and a large counter of snacks and drinks to spend it on, the cinema's get fuller, the studios make more money and so does the cinema!

     

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    Chargone (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    actually, yet again parts of the entertainment industry is whining about piracy and not realising that they're now competing with more different legitimate types of entrainment, for the same budget. tv, dvd, movies, novels, video games (consoles, PC, whatever), plus all the random hobbies and sports and comics and cartoons and who knows what else...

    and a recession...

    people only have so much money. more things to split it between means less per thing, so even with Zero piracy, the increase in Options is going to lead to any given option getting less. (and piracy has Zero effect on This bit because it doesn't use any of the budget!)

     

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    Chargone (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Hm

    so, you argument is that we should assume malice rather than ignorance then?

     

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    Planespotter (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Re:

    I know lots of downloaders who are paying for fast internet connectiosn with no limits who see lists and lists of films, tv shows, games, apps and think that keeping their torrent/NZB app running all night and day downloading stuff is getting value for money on the cost of their connection. I also know that a majority of these people watch/play/use less than 20% of what they get, simply because they don't have the actual time to watch/play/use it.

    These people don't have great jobs, they don't earn fortunes and there isn't a lost sale for everything they download.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Your sarcasm aside, you are pulling a "masnick effect" on this one. No, piracy wasn't an issue in that time period. Then again, there are other forces in play at the time.

    To equal the current drop, 1981/82 would have had to drop to something like 20 million. Clearly what is happening now is magnitudes of order worse.

    The very graph you selected shows the fact. Care to debate them?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    yet, millions still download the stuff that sucks and go wild for it. Apparently it doesn't suck that bad.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm afraid your post is so incoherent that I'm gonna have to ask some questions before I can respond to you.

    "To equal the current drop, 1981/82 would have had to drop to something like 20 million. Clearly what is happening now is magnitudes of order worse."

    What exactly are you talking about? The cited graph is revenue adjusted for actual buying power. What's this 20 million you speak of? Or this "magnitudes of order"?

     

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    lux (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re: Hm

    Precisely.

     

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    Rekrul, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    Re:

    Perhaps it is just me, but part of the tone set here seems to be "Why are they whining? They made gobs of cash."

    MPAA: Internet piracy is putting people out of work!!!
    2008: $9.64 billion (US/Canada), $28.1 billion (worldwide)


    MPAA: Internet piracy is costing the economy billions!!!
    2009: $10.6 billion (US/Canada), $30.3 billion (worldwide)


    MPAA: Internet piracy is destroying the movie industry!!!
    2010: $10.6 billion (US/Canada), $31.8 billion (worldwide)


    Please explain to me how you can reconcile the statements about piracy with the fact that Hollywood keeps reporting record-breaking profits year after year. How are they managing to make those sorts of profits if their industry is being destroyed and people are losing their jobs?

     

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Or *gasp* expanded services. The alehouse-style theaters seem to be booming.

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Incidentally, these graphs are coming from here. For convenience, links to an array or relevant graphs so you won't have to scan through the article:
    - Raw, unadjusted industry revenue
    - Total revenue adjusted for actual buying power
    - Per capita revenue adjusted for actual buying power (the one previously linked)
    - Album sales per capita
    - Singles sales per capita

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    the total number of tickets sold fell by 5 percent last year, but theater owners made up for the decline by raising prices an average of 39˘.

    Only 5%? It seems to me that middle of the "Great Depression 2.0" that the industry should be lauding that as a huge accomplishment.

    I mean seriously, in a time of a 9% unemployment rate there is a heck of lot more industries taking hits a lot larger than a 5% drop in sales.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    in the middle *

     

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    abc gum, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:44pm

    I'm not sure why people still go to the theater, I suppose they like paying exorbitant prices and being treated like a criminal.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    They go wild for shaky blur-infested overly dark camcorder recordings?

    If only it were in 3D! They'd go crazy wild for it!

     

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    Miff (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:53pm

    Re:

    The full message would be more like "Why are they whining about loosing money? They made gobs of cash.".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Uh, because without piracy those figures would be in the trillions? It's basic mathematics.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "the total number of tickets sold fell by 5 percent last year, but theater owners made up for the decline by raising prices an average of 39˘."

    Classic business strategy

    Minion: Sales are down Boss, there's only one thing we can do
    Boss: Are you pondering what I'm pondering Minion?
    Minion: I think so, but how will we hijack a plane at this time of night.
    Boss: Just raise ticket prices Minion, then go make me a vodka smoothie without the fruit, I'm trying to cut down on my cholesterol.
    Minion: Raise ticket prices?
    Boss: Think of it as the reverse Laffer curve Minion, without its immediate appeal to rationality.
    Minion: Yes! do do! that voodoo that you do so well.
    Boss: Drink Minion, go fetch! NOW!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Megatrillions
    Enough to feed all the worlds hungry.

    Pirates are literally starving people to DEATH!!!!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:19pm

    I know why they whine so much.

    It's obvious why MPAA whines so much. It works. Look at all of the money the whining brought in this past year.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Whenever I think about MPAA/RIAA executive types in their plush mahogany boardrooms, I always seem to hear a voice that says:

    "The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the world!"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:36pm

    http://www.mpaa.org/Resources/653b11ee-ee84-4b56-8ef1-3c17de30df1e.pdf

    Interestingly enough the figures in the report show that while the number of movies released have been going up and up over the decade, the number released by members of the MPAA have been going down.
    In 2001 MPAA members released 184 and in 2010 141
    compared to non MPAA members who
    in 2001 released 270 and in 2010 419.

    Maybe if the MPAA didn't waste so much money on lobbying for bogus laws to protect their members from non-existent problems then their members might actually have made more movies and/or more money.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 24th, 2011 @ 6:50pm

    Re:

    ...being treated like a criminal.

    A friend of mine was invited to a pre-release screening of a movie not long ago where a big security force of very large men in suits and ponytails performed a full TSA style pat down on every guest and required all to hand over thier electronic devices to be held until the show was over. They then proceeded to block all the exits with arms folded over their massive chests during the movie.

    Since it seems be the norm now that movie goers are watched intently with night vision goggles - that all seemed like overkill to me.

     

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    JMT, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 7:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Correct, there are currently a lot of movies being churned out that are not good enough to warrant the cost and effort of going to out to see on a big screen, but are good enough to be worth watching if the cost and effort required are practically zero. This should not be hard to understand.

    So once again the solution is to make better movies and/or make the experience of going out to see them better.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Between the previous peak and the "bottom" in 82 or so, you have a gap from 67 to 38 million. The current peak is 71 down to 26 million. Previous drop was less than half (44%) and the current is 64%. a 64% drop on 67 million would drop it to 24 million.

    The early 80s of course was a recession, one with worse unemployment than we have seen during this one. Yet, here we are, with music sales having dropped by an order of magnitude more.

    I am sure that piracy has absolutely nothing to do with it at all. Not at all. /sarc

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And I'm sure millions of musicians not associated with the recording industry giving out/selling their own music, on blank CDs, have nothing to do with it either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 9:39pm

    Ahh, Techdirt.

    "If X is going up despite Y, then people should stop whining about Y destroying X!"

    When X = "box office receipts" and Y = "piracy," then the above statement is clearly true.

    When X = "creative output" and Y = "copyright," then the statement is clearly false.

    I would think that if you really wanted business models based on "free" to succeed, you'd want piracy to stop also. After all, if people really had to pay the asking price for content, it would make the free alternatives that much more attractive. Supporting piracy just undermines the creation of free content.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2011 @ 10:24pm

    Re:

    I support piracy and I create content all the time!

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 12:22am

    Re:

    Techdirt's stance seems pretty basic.

    The film industry makes outrageous, unprovable claims every year about huge losses due to piracy. Yet they continually post record breaking profits.

    This is incredibly hard to reconcile with the average person because it simply doesn't add up. But in true paytard fasion you are able to twist the insane, record busting profits made into a dig at "pirates" and techdirt.

    Really, your credibility is zero.

     

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  58.  
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    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 1:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes absolutely they have to put cinema prices prices up because less people are going because of piracy...

    Except, no, that doesn't follow. Logic and economics would suggest that less people go because the prices go up. If people didn't go and watch films solely because they watched them elsewhere that would suggest films where a ripped off version was available before theatrical release would flop, which simply isn't the case. And, by the way, the availability of pre-release copies has been the case for years in the UK due to the ludicrous release lag over here.

    In my case, about 15-20 years ago I used to to see around 20-30 films a year in the cinema, 10 years ago it was probably around 10, 5 years ago about 2 and I've probably seen 3 or 4 films in a cinema since then. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, less and less films are interesting enough for me to want to go see them at the cinema and second the price of a night out at the cinema has gone up to the point where I can get a couple of courses of a damn fine meal in a good restaurant for the price or go take in a play at the local theatre, which is likely to be better acted. This despite having significantly more disposable income than I did back then.

    And before you say "ah but that exactly proves my argument, you're a freetard pirate like all the rest", in fact 15 years ago I knew many of my local "freetard pirates" of the time and could borrow pretty much any film I fancied, often pre-UK release. I chose to go to the cinema to watch films (some I had already seen) because the value was there (i.e. experience + price), the value has gone so now I don't.

    Same with DVD purchase, when DVD's first came out we bought quite a lot of back-catalogue stuff as it was released (often for vastly inflated prices in hindsight considering many were significantly old films) and often bought new films on release because the film was good enough to want to watch (again in some cases), now there is far less films I actually want to own and having pretty much got the back-catalogue stuff we want, tend to either not bother or wait 3-6 months until the DVD in question is in the bargain bin for 1/4 the price or less.

    Blu-ray? Not impressed. I'm the first to love quality, and usually buy the latest, greatest technology, but Blu-ray simply doesn't have enough of an advantage over upscaled DVD for the overinflated price of media vs. DVD to be compelling.

    So no, correlation is not causality and piracy is not proved to be forcing cinema prices up or driving audiences down. I don't have any more proof than you have except for my own experience as documented, but I would imagine the relationship is likely the other way round if anything: increased cinema prices are partially responsible for driving audiences down and piracy up. It's clearly working on average at the moment if profits are going up, but as you say there's a point where that's not sustainable.

    I will lay you a wager that if "piracy" stopped in it's tracks the cinema prices would mystically not go back down. Just like when the oil price goes up the oil companies use it as an excuse to raise petrol prices, but they mystically fail to come back down when the oil price drops.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 2:27am

    Re: Re:

    The film industry makes outrageous, unprovable claims every year about huge losses due to piracy. Yet they continually post record breaking profits.

    Techdirt makes outrageous, unprovable claims every week about huge creative losses due to copyright. Yet the creative output of the world is higher than ever.

    This is incredibly hard to reconcile with the average person because it simply doesn't add up. But in true paytard fasion you are able to twist the insane, record busting profits made into a dig at "pirates" and techdirt.

    This is incredibly hard to reconcile with the average person or politician because it simply doesn't add up. But in true Techdirt fashion you are able to twist the insane Cambrian explosion of content into a dig at "paytards" and hurf durf about oppression and repression.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 3:40am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Techdirt makes outrageous, unprovable claims every week about huge creative losses due to copyright. Yet the creative output of the world is higher than ever.
    I don't grant your premise, but either way Techdirt also doesn't use it's claims to justify charging it's users through the nose for it's product making any claims a debating opinion rather than something approaching fraud.

     

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  61.  
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    The eejit (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 3:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why not? IF you can't make a riff of a book you love, and make some money for both yourself AND the original creator (or their estate), then that's a lost work. See "The Wind Done Gone" for a good example of this.

    ON the flipside, if you embrace the fandom, and allow them to expand on your universe (as the DiMartino brothers have with Avatar: the Last Airbender) you improve creative output.

    IN the case of the MPAA and RIAA, they're whining that piracy is killing their industries when revenues scaled for buying power are higher than ever before. This disproves their claim in a testable environ. You find the study that definitively
    proves that copyright is actively encouraging creative output beyond the margin of error, and come back to me. Until then, though, no. Just NO.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 4:31am

    Buy a DVD these days and you have to sit through several minutes of unskipable FBI warnings, studio ads and stupid animated menus. That's everytime you put in the disc. Download the movies you don't have any of the crap .

    If the studios made available 720p and 1080p movies for download with no DRM, then I'd glady pay the same as what the Blu-ray or DVD costs. But they don't. Any online downloads are riddled with DRM that greatly restrict on what device I can watch, suddenly decides to stop working at time, and the host of other problems. Releasing no-DRM versions will NOT increase piracy. People can easily get them now unofficially. It will increase sales.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re:

    uhhhh no it's bad to say 'piracy' is ruining your bussiness and you can't make any money and people are losing jobs, then complain about it.

    lurk moar.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 5:22am

    Re:

    Buy a DVD these days and you have to sit through several minutes of unskipable FBI warnings, studio ads and stupid animated menus. That's everytime you put in the disc.

    Not to defend buying DVDs, but if you play them on a computer with either "AnyDVD" or "DVD Region & CSS Free" installed, you can skip right to the main menu at any time. It's nothing more than a script on the disc that tells the player not to let you skip ahead, and all DVD players are required to obey that stupid command.

    Supposedly VLC can do this as well, but I've never had any luck getting it to play a retail DVD.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But then they made more money...so by your logic they should totally sue the people who watch the movies because thier bussiness model can't adapt to the changing technology, oh wait isn't that the mantra of Techdirt "Innovate to adapt to the changing market". This is the type of head-in-sand that got them into this mess.

     

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  66.  
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    Jimr (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 5:44am

    Just think the amount would be in the trillions if not for those pesky kids, I mean pirates.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re:

    Not to defend buying DVDs, but if you play them on a computer with either "AnyDVD" or "DVD Region & CSS Free" installed, you can skip right to the main menu at any time
    And you used to be able to get DVD players chipped with "macrovision disable", which did the same thing, but the content producers hounded the companies that did it out of business despite such modification not being illegal (in the UK at least). I seem to remamber them having had a few legal stabs at AnyDVD and similar too for "enabling piracy". Yes I wouldn't consider pointing out that functionality a "defense of DVDs" because the producers of the content will do/are doing everything within their power to make it illegal to do so and therefore even watch the content you bought in the manner in which you wish to watch it.

    That of course means you will soon be branded a criminal for not watching the adverts branding you a criminal just as much as for "stealing" the content.... next step strapping you to your chair and forcing you to watch the indoctrination material. Compliance is your friend citizen.

     

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  68.  
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    Brent (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re:

    Except, how many people actually have a PC hooked up in their living room, where they'd actually sit down to watch a movie.

    Those unskippable menus infuriate me even more when my 4-year-old wants to watch a movie.

    It's less annoying, however, than the "you wouldn't steal a care" commercials at the beginning of movies in the theater. I just paid 12 bucks to see this movie in theater, and you're telling me how stealing a movie is bad? Seriously, fuck off.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But then they made more money...so by your logic they should totally sue the people who watch the movies because thier bussiness model can't adapt to the changing technology,
    Well that's not a stretch, that's pretty much what already happens.

    Personally, my biggest problem isn't with the content providers. I think their observable business model is morally reprehensible, preferring legally attacking those weaker than themselves rather than working within reality to make the best of what they have, but it doesn't really suprise me from a corporation which will typically have the founding and only principle as "make as much money as (in)humanly possible and f*ck everyone else".

    "Democratic" governments on the other hand are supposed to know better and are supposed to work for the betterment of the society they run and the fact that they prefer to feed, aid and feed off such conspicuous greed disgusts me. The greed of the corporations and the self-destructiveness of rampant capitalism wouldn't be such a problem if they could not basically buy the laws they want so that they can get away with suing anyone they want far beyond the bounds of lunacy never mind common sense.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, if you read the underlying report, you will see that without the price increases that have come on 3D movies, the actual ticket prices are down. Movie ticket prices have not increased even really at the pace of inflation in the last 10 years. 3D movies are the only thing that is keeping things looking positive.

    My entire point is that Mike is attempting to paint the MPAA as being whiny (this after he has made 3 or 4 fairly whiny posts about the MPAA this week, do you see a trend?). But the truth is attendance is down, even with the appeal of 3D movies (which are selling a bunch of tickets) and that without the increased ticket sales and prices of 3D, things would be pretty crappy. As 3D big screens make it into the home, you can assume that the advantages of 3D will diminish in the theaters too.

    Per capita movie visits are way down (particularly in the 18-25 area), and that is the real concern. You know, the peak demographic for piracy :)

    I wouldn't expect movie ticket prices to drop if piracy disappeared. I wouldn't expect them to go up either. I don't think anyone suggested any great correlation.

     

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  71.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I actually don't go to the theatres as much anymore because 3D movies cost more to see and the 3D adds almost nothing to most movies. This is probably because for just about every film so far the 3D is an added after effect. That would explain why I always feel like it adds nothing when I see them. If they cost the same as a normal film I would still be going to the theatres. I would say I go about 1/3 as much as I used to because of the price raises for pointless 3D.

     

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  72.  
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    Modplan (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well it obviously has nothing to do with the lack of necessity in re-buying digital when a significant amount of consumers have good enough quality from CD and DVD and the ability to rip them straight onto a PC is widely available.

     

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  73.  
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    Mike42 (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nimrod, have you looked at the economy lately? People living in a house that's about to be foreclosed don't go to the movies.
    Check the economic environment before attributing the 5% to "Piracy"

     

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  74.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO DO ANYTHING, EVER! - MPAA

     

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  75.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    the total number of tickets sold fell by 5 percent last year, but theater owners made up for the decline by raising prices an average of 39˘.

    "Theater owners raised ticket prices by an average of 39˘, but the customers made up for the increase by purchasing 5% less tickets."

     

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  76.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Home HDTV's are killing the movie industry! Somebody call the government!

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I wouldn't expect movie ticket prices to drop if piracy disappeared. I wouldn't expect them to go up either. I don't think anyone suggested any great correlation.
    Now you're being inconsistent almost within the same post.
    Per capita movie visits are way down (particularly in the 18-25 area), and that is the real concern. You know, the peak demographic for piracy :)
    You are suggesting a correlation between piracy and attendance at cinema (and ignoring the many other potential and indeed more likely factors I mentioned of course).
    the total number of tickets sold fell by 5 percent last year, but theater owners made up for the decline by raising prices an average of 39˘.
    You are stating that ticket price rises are due to falling attendance.

    By very short logic chain you do indeed suggest a correlation between rising ticket prices and piracy, just before the paragraph in which you deny any such correlation. Which is it? If you are claiming that piracy is the reason for the rise then logic suggests it should fall if piracy declines. If there's no correlation then piracy is not a factor. Added to that you, or some other AC poster suggest directly on almost every occasion the subject of prices arises (and I paraphrase) "stop bitching about rising ticket prices it's all because of you pirates so it's your own fault."

    Oh and "appeal of 3D"? Hardly universal - not one 3D film has appealed to me yet as they tend to be rather short on anything other than the 3D gimmick (you know like a plot) and I would consider any that did manage to appeal not worth the extra money for the 3D over 2D. Clearly others feel different but I do wonder just how long people will be willing to pay the inflated prices for such a gimmick - perhaps if the content does actually improve making it more than just a gimmick it might be a little more sustainable.

     

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  78.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    "But, if you don't watch the advertisements at the beginning of the DVD you purchased, that the same as stealing. You wouldn't steal a car, would you? Why are you trying to put the movie industry out of business?" - Anonymous Coward

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    bob, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And theater revenue isn't really the important data point either. Piracy is even more likely to curtail DVD sales which are really tanking faster than theater sales. But the pirate apologists and YouTube astroturfers don't want to hear this detail.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Cinema has been struggling to compete with huge HD televisions + HD surround sound for years. Hence the current "3D" novelty fad that we all know isn't going to last.

    All it took was a nice TV on sale in the shops and their business model went downhill. What an industry! The slightest bit of competition and they crumble and whine.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Piracy is even more likely to curtail DVD sales"

    Other than you having absolutely no evidence for this statement, you really should remember that the only reason that video and later dvd sales came to contribute vast sums to the movie industry at all was over their objections and their claims that the vcr would destroy the movie business.

    The suggestion regularly made here is that the digital age, brings the promise of expanding markets and profits yet further if the business responds to the new possibilities in a sane and sensible manner rather than trying to kill it with legislation while crying out that the "new thing" is going to destroy the movie business.

    They did it before, they were as far wrong as it was possible to be then and are trying the same tack again, now.

    Plus ça change

     

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  82.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The market for entertainment has grown. Video games are far more popular now. The fact that it is falling worse just means that they are failing to serve the customers so they are losing their piece of consumer's entertainment budget.
    Seems simple enough to me.

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    bob, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 10:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Other than you having absolutely no evidence for this statement... I doubt I have any evidence that you would accept. Sure DVD sales have been dropping and movie traffic on P2P networks have been skyrocketing, but you're probably the kind of loon who believes that all of that piracy is just by people who are "tasting" the movie and then becoming one of the few that actually purchases a DVD. Somehow you're probably trying to trick yourself into believing that the piracy is responsible for the few sales that actually go through. You can blather all you want about "new business models" but I don't see one built around people paying nothing to download the film. Ah, yeah, they could sneak in a commercial for Nabisco saltines as a product placement, but that's not going to pay for many development costs. You guys blather on and on about new business models, but if we're going to have a movie industry that spends $x on cool content, the n consumers are going to have to pony up an average of $x/n one way or another. Until lately, the pirates have been able to freeride on the average schmoes who are paying the product costs. As you loons recruit more and more people into your "sharing" circles, the number of schmoes drops and the amount of money going into production drops. So if everyone adopts your ethos and refuses to kick in anything because everything should be like free man, we're going to be stuck with a bunch of YouTube videos about cats riding Roombas. Almost all of the so called new business models celebrated by this blog aren't breakeven proposition. I love the one where the composer was selling music boxes with the song for hundreds of dollars. Oh yeah. That's going to pay the rent.

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are stating that ticket price rises are due to falling attendance.

    Nope, I am stating no cause and effect. Change of attendance isn't the reason ticket prices went up, it is the arrival of 3D, which they are charging a premium for.

    The only connection is that the positive results are due to the increase in ticket prices, even in the face of declinging attendance.

    There is no causal relationship.

    Oh and "appeal of 3D"? Hardly universal - not one 3D film has appealed to me yet as they tend to be rather short on anything other than the 3D gimmick

    This is where you need to understand that you cannot paint everyone else's opinion based solely on your own. Plenty of people are willing to pay extra, and buy 3D TVs, and all that. It would appear that 3D has gotten quite a hold this time around. Gimmick or not, enough people seem to like it.

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The short version of your response would read
    "correct, there is no evidence to support my view on piracy"

    Just typing that would have taken you so much less time and been more accurate.

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    Huph, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's just not how movie theaters work. They rent the reels, and ticket prices barely cover the cost of the rental. Sometimes ticket prices don't cover the cost of the rental.

    Literally, theaters make their money from concessions. They make, basically, zero profit from ticket sales. Often, big budget blockbusters cost the theater more money per showing than they could possibly make back through ticket sales. The studios that make the movies are the ones that have the power to lower the fee to rent the reel. BUT, if they did that in order for the theater to make more money on concessions, then why shouldn't the movie studios demand a piece of the concession action?

    ^^^ This is exactly what's happening in the music industry as 360 deals become the norm. And it's not just majors, now even the indies are often looking to get in on 360 deals, which are bad news for artists. If your income ONLY comes from t-shirt sales, you'd be a fool to give up any piece of that pie.

     

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  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Perhaps you might try the same things with the tickets sold numbers, and the tickets per capita numbers.

    Wait. We are on techdirt. Why actually look at facts?

     

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  88.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 3:39pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ummm Quadcore with a rather nice video card, a pile of ram, and full network access right next to the big screen, and it even does proper thx sound.

    Doesn't everybody?

     

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  89.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Feb 25th, 2011 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps you might try the same things with the tickets sold numbers, and the tickets per capita numbers.

    Why? Will that change the amount of profit that they made?

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Aha. So when you say "x million" you mean "$x [dollars, not millions] per capita". That clarifies things. Now, I'm still not 100% sure what you think "order of magnitude" means, but it actually means something very different.

    Okay, now that we're past your verbal errors, we can move on to your argument.

    You provide a textbook example of a well-known artifact of human reasoning: the instinctive urge to rely Occam's Razor even where it doesn't apply - that if there are two explanations for something, the simpler one is more likely to be correct. The error here is that Occam's Razor only applies when the two explanations are equally plausible in all other factors. The flaw in human reasoning is that it favors simple explanations that explain part of the data - being content to simply ignore the data that doesn't fit - over complex explanations that explain all the data, and regards attempts to introduce other data as red herring to muddy the waters.

    In the current context, the result is the thought process that there's no need to scour data from many different industries and consider complex systems of many different variables that could potentially affect sales of recorded music when there's a simple explanation that can explain the decrease with only a single variable: piracy.

    The problem is this: all that data you didn't need to reach your conclusion still exists, even if you pretend it doesn't. The fact that your simple explanation fits one specific series of numbers (the sales values of music) does not change the fact that your explanation does not fit all the other data you dismissed as curious coincidences. Data such as the sales of games, DVDs, movie tickets, and music being tied together (source), where one increasing corresponds to a visible decrease in the others of the same magnitude. Or the fact that over the very same period of overall music sales decline we see that album sales fall just as singles sales skyrocket far beyond what's necessary to account for the drop in album sales (in other words, people are buying individual songs they like, rather than buying the entire album just to get a couple songs).

    I could keep going, providing additional data, but I realize that the probability of changing your mind is very low, given that you already have your simple explanation and have no desire to change it. So rather than continue to provide data for you to sweep under the rug, I'll save both our time and simply stop here.

    There's one last thing that I should mention, though. I've been following these numbers for years, and done so from the perspective of someone familiar with formal statistics both theoretically (e.g. what you learn in a statistics class) and practically (how statistics are actually used in real-life research, specifically in the natural sciences). I'm very accustomed to dealing with correlations of many variables, and have the experience to know how complicated reality is as the rule. Where I come from, it's never okay to only explain part of the data, even when the explanation is aesthetically appealing.

     

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  91.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 25th, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    After reading through your rant there, I find it amusing that you refer to other people as "loons"

     

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  92.  
    identicon
    Not an electronic Rodent, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 12:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is where you need to understand that you cannot paint everyone else's opinion based solely on your own
    OK I give up. Come back when you read english, or at least can manage more than one sentence at once
    Clearly others feel different but I do wonder just how long people will be willing to pay the inflated prices for such a gimmick
    Clearly you are not interested in debate, all you can manage is a slightly more sophisticated version of "You're all freetard pirates, so f*ck you." and simply ignore or deliberately mis-interpret anything you don't like.

     

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  93.  
    identicon
    mirradric, Feb 28th, 2011 @ 2:13am

    Re: Hm

    You make it sound as if they are a bunch of scammers/con man!!

     

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  94.  
    identicon
    Kamera CCTV, Aug 21st, 2011 @ 11:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I dont think so ..

     

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