Dark Knight Proves Again: Give People A Reason To Go To The Movies And They Will

from the silly-MPAA dept

While the MPAA still wants you to believe that movie piracy is a huge problem, it’s never quite able to explain how the movies that are most likely to be available for free online also happen to be the biggest box office winners. The latest example is with The Dark Knight, the latest Batman installment. It’s getting tremendous reviews and had a record opening week, despite the fact that you could download it online. This isn’t a surprise. Piracy has never really been a threat to the movie business — which has always been more about selling the experience than the movie itself. And, things are even better with The Dark Knight because it’s actually designed to look amazing on IMAX screens, which is an experience you just can’t replicate at home. Somehow, though, we doubt the MPAA will give up its pointless claims about the “threat” of movie downloads.

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Comments on “Dark Knight Proves Again: Give People A Reason To Go To The Movies And They Will”

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Amazing Steve says:

Re: MPAA pointless claims

Unfortunately, it’s going to take a Supreme Court Judge to finally say that their position is invalid before they’ll let it go. The RI/MPAA’s are like alcoholics, and junkies right now. All fucked up, getting worse, and blaming everybody else for their problems. Nothing changes until the absolute rock bottom is hit and like a junkie, they’re holding on to the old ways until the last possible moment. They know it’s killing them, but ANYTHING that will keep it going is welcome.
I imagine there’s a love/hate thing in Hollywood with movies like this. On the one hand it’s like a licence to print money for a period of time, and on the other hand it only serves to shoot their position that piracy is killing them full of holes right in front of the public.

Devils advocate says:

MPAA's claims

I don’t think that downloading is going to ruin the movie business but it does take money, even if it is just a little, out of the pockets of the movie houses and the production companies. Yes they can afford it but do you want someone taking even a little of your money. If someone had access to your account and was taking a few cents every day wouldn’t you do something about it.

Will says:

Re: MPAA's claims

I have been downloading movies for years. I’ve had to stop recently because I started getting notices from the MPAA. The movies I did download I either wanted in a different format (for my ipod) or because I wanted to see it. But if I had to pay I wouldn’t have considered paying for it, I would of just waited until I could record it off the T.V.

They did, in the end, make more money cause I could download. If a movie I downloaded was good I’d go buy the DVD so I could have a higher quality format than what I got online.

hegemon13 says:

Re: MPAA's claims

Wrong. “Piracy” takes no money out of their pockets. It simply does not put it there to begin with. There is a huge difference. If a person downloads a copy of a movie using their own bandwidth, it takes NO money from the studios.

Some of the downloaders will watch the downloaded copy and never buy tickets. Other downloaders will watch the downloaded copy, and then go to the theater to see a better quality presentation. Some of the latter will be people who never would have bought tickets without having seen the download. It balances, though I think that, all-in-all, the value of promotion outweighs the loss of ticket sales. Why? Because those satisfied with watching only the downloaded copy are people who were unlikely to buy tickets, anyway.

Check out the US Pirate Party report to see the effect that piracy has REALLY had on the MPAA. Box office sales were at near-record highs last year, and 2008 is on track to shatter that record.

Kevin says:

Re: MPAA's claims

I don’t think movie downloads take any money at all out of the hands of movie companies. Most people who download movies are downloading movies they would never pay for, just to kill some time on a rainy afternoon.

It seems more likely to me,that downloading movies is costing book publishing companies, or videogame companies more money than the movie companies, because people would rather watch a free bad movie than pay $10 for an award winning paperback.

Chris-Mouse says:

Re: Re: MPAA's claims

It seems more likely to me,that downloading movies is costing book publishing companies, or videogame companies more money than the movie companies, because people would rather watch a free bad movie than pay $10 for an award winning paperback.

You might want to wander over to baen.com and take a look around. This is the publisher’s website, and they’ve posted complete books online for free download. The reason why is explained in the editorials on the site. It turns out that they make MORE money when the books are available for free, not less.

Amadeus says:


I’m sure there are those that went for that specific reason, but most people went because they thought it would be a damn good film. Which it was. Ledger’s stunningly creepy performance of the Joker was spot on- leaving one to wonder who could, potentially, fill his shoes in the role.

I went to see the movie because I knew it was going to be awesome, not because I have some sort of lingering interest in seeing a dead man on the big screen.

Old Guy says:

Re: Re:

You are right, Speedo’ed (NOT). I am sure that no one would have even considered going to see the movie if Ledger was still alive…especially since his acting skill was so mediocre that he only won 13 awards for his film work and was nominated for 29 more (including the Oscar) Not too shabby for someone who didn’t live to see 30.

Abdul says:

Re: Re:

You are perfectly correct! The morbid fascination was a deciding factor. However we should not allow the likes of MPAA to control how the internet should be run. That’s why you should write your senator to support the following bill: Internet Freedom Preservation Act: Right Bill. Right Now(http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=582&doc_id=148552&F_src=flftwo)

Anonymous Coward says:

Awesome Movie

MM is right again! The movie was incredible in IMAX…seeing the detail on the huge screen. The sounds systems usually are way more powerful as well. The movie delivers and the special effects are actually realistic and believable. I wish that the MPAA realize that they are in the experience business as well…since movies are a great reprise from real life.

Bryant says:


basically what your saying is that if someone takes money from a large company then they should be sued? What gets me is there was no one to sue people who started watching tv over radio when the technology was introduced. Maybe the movie company’s should start streaming there movie releases in high def the day of release so that theaters can sue the movie companies. the entire concept is baffling, we live in a free market economy, that is the theaters new competition, the internet, maybe theater and movie companies should jump on the bandwagon and realize the potential of the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve seen a pirated copy of TDK. It was an excellent movie. It was such a great movie that my lady and I are going to the theater to see it.

I made the statement to her, that hollywood should think of pirated flicks as free advertisement. Considering the fact that I had seen the movie for free and she hasn’t, I pretty much told her “We have to go see this movie”.

We would not have went at all if I didn’t see the free version first.

So if any of you hollywood net cops are reading, make GOOD movies and people will pay to see them!

James says:


They have a point (hear me out) piracy IS a problem if it keeps people from paying to see their sh*tty movie, and they know it.

A really great movie is going to be seen, downloads or no.. but an average or crappy movie isn’t… and rather than just make fewer, better movies (the real issue), or make the movie experience better, they choose to litigate and bs.

Of course, the MPAA misjudges its audience.. most of us are smart enough to avoid bombs like “Meet Dave” and let it drop from the top 10 within a week or two of release.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nothing with piracy is ever relevant as you can’t tell who the pirates are or what they’re doing. Most people I know will watch a movie in the theater, because they have no intent to discourage movie makers by not giving them the cash they want. But if they later want to watch it again they pirate it, because it’s so easy to do these days.

I think that’s fair, after all, when you buy a DVD there are many more reasons to own it than to see the movie more than one time. Yet, there’s only one reason to buy a movie ticket, to see it one time. These days, the price difference is minimal, what like 30 for a DVD and 10 for a ticket? So going by law these people may be in the wrong, but going by value they have the right, and it’s the industry and MPAA who are the true thieves.

The whos says:

Re: Re:

Well… you can watch a movie in theater immediately after it is released, but you would have to wait for a few months to watch them on DVD (okay with many movies I guess, but definitely not always).

TDN is an exceptional movie. But what about not-so-popular-but-still-good movies? If you dont like a movie then just dont watch it or wait for DVD rental or wait until it arrives in your local library (my fav way!).

Piracy is unethical and would make even the genuine fans not to spend on those movies (why go to theater to watch “The squid and the whale” when you can watch it at home for free, especially since it does not have great special effects and you wouldnt hear about the spoilers as the movie is not famous anyways!).

Chronno S. Trigger says:


A coworker of mine saw The Dark Knight over the weekend. He said it’s one of the greatest movies he’s seen so far. In the middle of his showing they stopped the move and escorted by police out for camcordering.

He told me the story and I said “It’s not like I can’t go out and download it right now”. He responded “I already have it”.

I don’t think the MPAA is doing anything that actually works.

Wayne says:

Movie Viewing

I have to tell you my wife and I went to see a movie at our local popular theator a few weeks ago. The sound was so loud both of our ears were ringing for some time afterward.

Going to the movies used to be a very pleasent escape for us on a regular basis, but the quality of the movie going experience has been declining for us recently. There is alot more garbage out there on the screens and frankly it is alot more enjoyable for us to use the home theator for the movies we want to see when we want to see them.

We are big netflix fans and it works much much better than anything else except maybe redbox these days.

Chris (user link) says:

Re: Movie Viewing

I’ve had the same experience. The difference is that I went out to find the manager and asked them to adjust the sound, which they promptly did. It certainly didn’t put me off from seeing the movie.

The downloadable cam versions of the film, which is the only thing available for download, are crap. The quality is horrible even on the “best” cams, as is the audio.

2 Face says:

Movie Review

I went and saw TDK in the theater, and it was downright 100% awesome. I don’t think downloading a dark grainy cam version would do it justice. That said, when the DVD rips i.e. AXXO come out, combined with a home theater system, and the comfort of my own home (ie. watching in my underwear, eating food that costs under a $100.00)the allure of the download might tempt a free viewing.
The reason downloading flicks has not eclipsed the theater is the lag between the film being released and the quality of audio/video of camera-shot downloads.
Normally the film comes out, and within minutes there is a cam version of the movie on your favorite bit torrent site, however the quality is horrid and usually unwatchable.

What they should do is on the day movie is released in theaters, release the movie on cable or internet or even DVD for a fee of course.
People are always talking about the experience of the theater.
What an experience…sitting in the dark with a bunch of strangers. Having to deal with people whispering, kids screaming, cell phones vibrating, popcorn crunching, with over-priced food, scrunched up beside some moron fighting for control of the armrest. Not to mention the inconvenience of NO pause button (for long movies, and after drinking the BIGGIE soda).
I know the BIG sound and screen make it exciting, but with the prices of home theaters and big screen HDTVs going down, it hardly seems to make sense to have theaters being the only showcase for new movies.

And BTW…

The Dark Knight made $158 million over 3 days, but factor in the rising price of movie tickets. I mean in 10 years, a movie might bring in over $200 million in an opening weekend, but if tickets are $20 each, it’s not as impressive.
I absolutely loved this movie (Heath Ledger deserves the Oscar hands down), but fact is Spiderman 3 sold more tickets last year in its opening, but the price of tickets was slightly lower.

Michael Long (user link) says:

Works for the Knight...

You could have a point, but what works for the Knight doesn’t necessarily work for all, or even most, of the other films. In fact, “blockbuster” films like TDN work against smaller films by reducing the number of available screens.

If all you want to see are the half-dozen “blockbusters” showing at your local theater, then by all means consider this as your “proof” of concept.

If, however, you want more choice in your moviegoing fare, then you might need to consider many films that to make their bones at the box office and need DVD and download sales to make up the difference and pay the bills.

John (profile) says:

Two points

First, even if the movie took in $158 million in one weekend, or even if it took in a record-breaking $350 million, the MPAA would still complain that their revenue was down because of the “pirates”.
“Sure, we set a record for most money taken in on one day, but we could have made more if people hadn’t downloaded it.”

Second, and this is the question that I’d like someone to answer:

If a regularly-priced movie ticket is $10 (for example) and I see an afternoon showing for $6.00, have I somehow “stolen” or “taken money away” from the studio or MPAA?
Do they calculate this as a “loss”? If not, how can the claim a “loss” if someone downloads the movie with no intent of even seeing in the theaters?

Suppose 100 people were in an afternoon showing and only paid $6.00. Does this mean that this group of “evil” early-show watchers effectively stole $400?
If the regular ticket price was $12, does this mean they “stole” $6 per person, for a total of $600?

What about all the other afternoon shows? My god, hundreds of people could be paying less than full price to *legally* see the movie! The studio could be losing gazillions or even bazillions because of these people!

cram says:

how it works

Hi John

“If a regularly-priced movie ticket is $10 (for example) and I see an afternoon showing for $6.00, have I somehow “stolen” or “taken money away” from the studio or MPAA?”

The theater paid the studio to screen the movie. Even if the theater screens the movie for free, the loss is theirs, not the studio’s or MPAA’s.

“Do they calculate this as a “loss”? If not, how can the claim a “loss” if someone downloads the movie with no intent of even seeing in the theaters?”

See, your question is already answered. They did not authorize the download, so anytime anyone downloads it, they will consider it a loss.

And pray, if someone has no intent of even seeing it in the theaters, why do they download it in the first place? Probably because they do not want to pay to watch a movie.
This becomes a huge problem when someone downloads a copy, burns it on a DVD, makes tens of thousands of copies and sells them in the black market, which incidentally is the norm in China, India, Malaysia and Thailand, and quite likely a whole host of other developing nations.

Aussie says:

Perspecitve on value for money

I am a big movie watcher; some I download, the majority I rent on DVD, but very rarely do we go to the cinema anymore.
The only time we go to the cinema is for a movie like the “Lord Of The Rings”, “Star Wars”, and the “Dark Knight” that are in a totally different world on the big screen.
So why don’t we go to the cinema; (1) the cost for the tickets & the food (2) the lack of control of the viewing environment. A couple of movie tickets and some chips and drinks (and through in parking) and you ain’t got much change from $50, add a couple of kids into the mix and there goes the family’s entertainment budget for the month. Now for under $20 I can rent three new-release videos, buy the chips and drinks, and the family can sit at home in front of the large screen plasma with the home hifi & subwoofer and have almost the same view as the cinema with the ultimate power over the viewing experience (e.g. pause, rewind, volume control).
As for the films I download, they fall into two distinct categories; (1) I got to see it now because the DVD ain’t out yet {which 99.9% of the time I end up renting or purchasing on DVD because of the quality of the video and she hates CAM films}, and (2) I was not going to watch it anyway {but it is late I can’t sleep and there ain’t anything good on TV.

Another perspective on legality; is it “legal” to rent a video on cheapy-tuesday then dvd-shrink it to the harddrive and then watch it on saturday, download the mp3s of an album to listen to it a couple of times before realizing there was only one good track on it {p.s. my favorite artists I always buy their CDs}, download tv shows that won’t be available in your country for 1 to 2 years, or download a magazine that is not even sold in your country.

Question; in reality what percentage of society actually has the technological knowledge to download and then use the media. In my associated family; my parent’s, my bother and sisters families are not capable. Yet I am the one encouraging then to watch a tv series like Dextar, or telling them they have got to rent this dvd… one downloader but four purchasers.

The movie, music, and tv industries need to wake up to the digital download age … as music artists have done knowing that you can’t download the experience of a live performance.

The movie industry needs to release all films around the world at the same time, cinemas should sell multi-session viewing tickets, dvd releases and official downloads should be within a couple of months of cinema release. For example in Australia some of the TV stations started showing the latest episode of a show a couple of day’s after it was shown in the states. Hence why would I bother downloading it in this case. So if the DVD was available in a month or two of the cinema release then why would I download it when in a few weeks I can rent it on DVD.

p.s. Did you realize that most insurance companies won’t cover your mp3 or avi collection but they will fully cover your CD and DVD collections.

PaulT (profile) says:

Another view

Here’s another thing the studios are missing – DVD sales due to their stupid windowing efforts. How many people would have bought the DVD immediately if it were available? I’d guess a majority. Probably in addition to the theatrical experience, not instead. Instead, they have to wait 6 months. Guess what many people will do? That’s right, download the movie. Not instead of buying the DVD or a movie ticket, but in addition to that.

Also, the dumb windowing of theatrical releases means that those of us unfortunate enough not to live in the US have to wait. 1 week for the UK release, I have to wait 3 weeks here in Spain. With the hype this movie’s getting, some people don’t want to wait that long so will download a copy – again, not instead of paying money, but to fill the gap waiting to be allowed to do so. Same as we have to do with Hellboy 2 – hell, I could buy the US DVD of the original Hellboy before the UK theatrical release.

The apparent difference between The Dark Knight and other movies is that even if you see a pirate copy of TDK, it’s still worth paying money for. If Hollywood are losing any money, it’s because you just can’t say that about the quality of most movies.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: on target

Hi, nice to be appreciated!

Oh, I know why the windowing happens but it’s no less dumb.

They think that simultaneous DVD releases would cannibalise the market and theaters would be put out of business. I think there’s always tension between the studios and theater owners, and DVD releases are always a sore point – look, for instance, at theaters banning Soderberg’s movie “Bubble” when it had a simultaneous release.

I understand where they’re coming from, but it’s just dumb. I think back to the 80s, when studios withheld their product from video because of the same fear. Now, they make huge profits on DVD and the theatrical business is still going strong. If only they’d recognise the “piracy” as being an expression of market desires rather than trying to block it…

CreditMom (user link) says:

People will always pay to see a great movie in the movie theatre. We thought VHS would replace the movies and it didn’t.

By downloading movies, the only thing people are doing is weeding out the garbage they are curious to see but would not spend money on. If these movies weren’t free I don’t think people would spend money on them any way especially with the current economy. People are demanding quality for their money and I don’t see anything wrong with it.

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