Why Hollywood Is Doomed: It Takes Sensible Advice Like 'Make Good Movies' And Turns It Into A Screed About Piracy

from the wow dept

Last week, Rob ‘Cmdrtaco’ Malda (and, can I just say that I think it’s awesome the Washington Post allows Rob to keep “Cmdrtaco” in his byline?) wrote a perfectly reasonable (perhaps even tame) column with the admittedly inflammatory title Why Hollywood is doomed. But if you read the actual article, it basically argues that the answer to Hollywood’s problems is not to focus on passing bad laws in a quixotic and pointless attempt to “stop” piracy, but rather do what they should be best at: making good movies. He also suggests a much bigger threat to Hollywood than any amount of piracy is (gasp!) bad word of mouth:

While Hollywood blames piracy, at least for now, I put the blame squarely on texts and tweets. These days, a month-long $100 million marketing campaign culminates in a 24-hour social network frenzy. The first $10 million-worth of ticket purchasers influence the potential $90 million-worth with knee-jerk reviews broadcast via their smartphones. These viewers determine if the movie will make a profit.

Ultimately, Hollywood, here’s the secret: Make good movies. “The Avengers” is simply fantastic. It’s no surprise, since the film’s director, Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Firefly-fame), is known for making cult, ensemble TV action. His most recent film, prior to “The Avengers”, is “The Cabin in the Woods” — still the most fun movie of 2012.

This is perfectly reasonable advice. If Hollywood actually focuses on making top notch movies, it seems pretty clear that people have no problem paying. The success of the Avengers is hardly the only data point to show this.

So how do the folks at the MPAA react to such reasonable advice? They start whining all over again. In fact, they sent out their “big guns,” starting with Michael O’Leary (basically Chris Dodd’s righthand man) to attack Malda by totally misreading his column:

The Washington Post’s Rob Malda’s recent blog post appears to argue that the success of a particular film at the box office somehow means that concerns about widespread piracy are misplaced. This is a bit like condoning shoplifting if it’s done at a successful store. Of course, we shouldn’t. And it overlooks the economic damage – and the damage to consumers — of turning a blind eye to such forms of theft.

Except that’s not what Malda said at all. He said the concerns were misplaced because good movies can still get tons of people to pay — far more than ever did in the past. This isn’t saying that shoplifting is okay from a successful store. It’s saying that there’s little to no evidence that such infringement actually has a negative impact, because it seems pretty damn clear that people are still quite willing to pay to go see a good movie.

From there, O’Leary goes on to misrepresent the already ridiculous White House report that tallies up jobs in “IP-intensive” industries, but ignores the fact that very few of those jobs exist because of IP laws. In fact, an awful lot of those jobs come from industries (tech) that have fought the hardest against the expansion of IP laws, and have worked hard to reform them. On top of that, the report clearly states that it’s not intended to be used for policy purposes, but that hasn’t stopped the MPAA and all its friends from mentioning it every chance they get:

According to a recent Department of Commerce report, IP-intensive industries such as film and television support 40 million jobs and add $5 trillion dollars to U.S. gross domestic product annually – nearly 35 percent of America’s economic output. 2.2 million American jobs depend on the film industry and television industry alone.

We think that the hard work of those people should be protected. But the reality is that rampant online theft undermines the ability of IP-intensive industries like ours to invest in new ideas and new products if it’s simply accepted fact that they will be stolen – often before they even have a chance to hit the marketplace. Copyright protections are critical to keeping the creative industries vibrant so they can continue to employ millions of Americans and produce the films and other creative content that have become such a vital part of our cultural fabric.

O’Leary conveniently leaves out that this same report noted that these “IP-intensive industries” are currently growing faster than other industries and pay people more than other industries. I guess that doesn’t fit with “the story” that the sky is falling and they need special protections.

As for those protections, last I checked, we were supposed to live in a capitalist free market economy, where even the most basic economics student learns that you don’t “protect” industries, you let them compete. And if they fail, they fail. The fact that O’Leary wants the government to be protectionist for his industry, rather than letting it compete in a free market pretty much makes clear what he thinks his own industry’s chances of survival are.

And he’s mostly right… because it goes right back to what Rob said. For the most part, they don’t seem to make that many good movies these days. They’ve focused on crappy, formulaic, derivative flicks. Every so often a good film gets out, but Hollywood has become afraid to make good movies most of the time. Perhaps if it spent more time focusing on that, and less on whining about how it needs to be protected, it wouldn’t have so many problems.

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Comments on “Why Hollywood Is Doomed: It Takes Sensible Advice Like 'Make Good Movies' And Turns It Into A Screed About Piracy”

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jupiterkansas (profile) says:

I used to go to a hobby shop where the guy working there would follow you around, pretending to straighten the shelves while watching you to make sure you didn’t steal anything. I just quit shopping there.

Even if you manage to every last instance of shoplifting, it has nothing to do with making your business more successful. That doesn’t mean you should do nothing, but treating customers like potential criminals is not good business.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

The Washington Post?s Rob Malda?s recent blog post appears to argue that the success of a particular film at the box office somehow means that concerns about widespread piracy are misplaced. This is a bit like condoning shoplifting if it?s done at a successful store. Of course, we shouldn?t. And it overlooks the economic damage ? and the damage to consumers — of turning a blind eye to such forms of theft.

The single best thing these idiots could do to try to clean up their hopelessly tarnished image is to KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF WITH THE STUPID STEALING METAPHORS! They are lies and they don’t work, you’re not shaming anyone, so just quit it! Copying is not stealing, it’s COPYING! It’s not like shoplifting, it’s like COPYING! It’s not like theft, it’s like COPYING! It’s not like plundering and pillaging on the open seas, it’s like COPYING!

Michael O’Leary, please pay attention: copying is just copying after all. If you don’t like that, tough, but nothing, NOTHING, you say can change this fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Copyright protections are critical to keeping the creative industries vibrant

Of all the preposterous things in O’Leary’s response, this one gets in my craw the worst.
Copyright protections are not essential to creative industries. If they were, we wouldn’t have fashion, or interesting food, or the entirety of human history before 1710, which last I checked was practically overflowing with art and music and writing and all sorts of creative output.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course Hollywood doesn’t get it. Lots of people love A Cabin in the Woods but it sat on the shelf for years because the studio executives wouldn’t release it without converting it to 3D. Post Conversions are awful and Joss Whedon fought against this and won. How many other great movies are sitting on a shelf because some studio exec just doesn’t get it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Wow, they really can’t listen can they?

Just to illustrate, a quick look at this weekend’s top 3 films in the US:

The Avengers: $55 million on 3rd week of release and still #1, over $1 billion worldwide and the 4th highest grossing movie of ALL TIME internationally according to boxofficemojo.com. Critically acclaimed, 93% fresh and 96% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. At the beginning of the year, this wasn’t even the most anticipated *superhero* movie of the year (that would be The Dark Knight Rises), yet word of mouth has driven it skyward – and yes, this is despite piracy also happening.

Battleship: $25 million on first week of release. Despite reasonable international revenue in previous weeks, it looks like a flop. 36% fresh and 57% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. From the moment it was announced, most people thought this was a ridiculous idea, and audiences largely stayed away as a result.

The Dictator: I won’t go into the exact figures here, but suffice to say it charts somewhere below Borat and Bruno’s Rotten Tomatoes scores, and charts somewhere below them on opening weekend figures. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

Yet, all these idiots can take out of this is “waahhh the pirates are killing us!”, even though 2 of the top 15 domestic grossing movies OF ALL TIME were produced this year already (The Hunger Games is currently #14).

But yeah, they could make so much more if When they fail, it will be well deserved, and hopefully it will be the producers of *good* movies that stay standing. makers of generic trash people tired of years ago will not be missed.

Rich Kulawiec (profile) says:


It continues to amaze me that anyone is actually willing to put their name on crap like John Carter or Battleship or any of the Transformers movies or Pluto Nash or or or…

Those responsible for these debacles shouldn’t be whining about piracy: they should be writing thank-you notes to every single person who downloaded them for having the stamina to endure them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Okay, I give!

They’re right. Movie-making is the heart of the US economy. We should dump all those smoke-belching, chemical-polluting industries and invest heavily in movie-making.

If 3 movie studios can contribute $5 TRILLION dollars to the US economy, imagine what 25 more movie studios could do for us! Imagine a 1,000 movie studios! We would own the Chinese, lock, stock and chopsticks!

What are we waiting for? Let’s get on th…

What’s that? You say that you don’t want MORE movie studios? You just want all the money for yourselves? Oh!

Well, never mind!!!

silverscarcat says:

Okay, I give!

You know, I’d LOVE to put the Movie and music lobbyists in the same room as the agriculture and oil lobbyists and have the Movie and music lobbyists DARE to say that they’re more valuable than agriculture and oil.

I’ll give the farmers pitchforks and the oil companies torches.

The movie lobbyists get film reel and the music lobbyists get a crate of CDs.

PaulT (profile) says:


I think Joss Whedon’s entire career can be summed up as “had a great idea, made something great, studio didn’t get it and cancelled/ruined/delayed it, fans discovered it and it makes money. Rinse, repeat”.

At least the The Avengers will hopefully break the cycle and he can get more great stuff out there. I just hope he doesn’t get trapped in a single franchise for a decade like Sam Raimi did.

drewdad (profile) says:

It sound kinda alarming...

Exactly. The issue isn’t whether the studios know how to make a good movie, or how to make money.

The issue (just like with the music industry) is that the industry mouthpieces need to justify their existence.

And the great thing (for them) about piracy, is that it will never go away. Automatic job security!

Until the studios tell the MPAA to stop pissing off customers, the MPAA will continue to piss off customers.

Anonymous Coward says:


You sir have said exactly how Joss Whedon’s entire career has been. He’s been so far ahead of his time, regarding what the people/fans wanted, that is has been summarily in every single form/format cancelled/ruined by the studios. At which point, the fans have made their voices heard and spoken with their wallets in support of Joss Whedon’s various ventures (Firely being my personal favorite).

I saw The Avengers. I was looking forward to it as a comic fan since I first heard about it. The moment I found out Joss Whedon was attached my first thought was, “Shut up and take my money.”

Directors/writers like him need to be allowed to do as they please. But somehow they aren’t. Yet Michael Bay is allowed to do as he pleases, quite literally. Budgetwise, scriptwise, etc. And we are all the worse off for it. There is no justice in the world. But hopefully The Avengers can right some of that wrong.

RD says:






And we will keep repeating it until you start getting the message.

Michael Long (profile) says:

It sound kinda alarming...

There’s a truism in Hollywood that you’re only as good as your last picture. A couple of flops can kill an actor’s career, or a director’s, or a writer’s, and so on.

Now, keeping the above in mind, YOU have to make a movie. You have two scripts, one quirky and on a screwball theme no one’s tried before. The other is a remake of a highly popular ’60s TV show.

Remember, your career is on the line. What’s your choice? Take a chance or play it safe?

Russ (profile) says:

Hollywood through the ages

And he’s mostly right… because it goes right back to what Rob said. For the most part, they don’t seem to make that many good movies these days. They’ve focused on crappy, formulaic, derivative flicks. Every so often a good film gets out, but Hollywood has become afraid to make good movies most of the time. Perhaps if it spent more time focusing on that, and less on whining about how it needs to be protected, it wouldn’t have so many problems.

The Hollywood model hasn’t changed in the last 100 years. They follow Pareto’s law (or for the more discriminating Sturgeon’s law) and 80-90% of what they make is dross. 50 years ago it was star (Stewart, Gable, etc.) and genre driven(western anyone?); today they have added franchises to the mix but it is still quantity over quality. Critics have been forever suggesting better movies but Hollywood figures, it ain’t broke so what to fix.

They protected the studio system with the same vigor then as they do copyright today, for the same reason, control of the assets for exploitation. The only difference today is that they can monitize the library easier (although that has always been part of the Disney model)

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

With great risk comes great reward.

Being the “safe bet” didn’t help Dark Shadows (a film with an actor and director people love), John Carter (a film based on a hundred year old story), or Battleship (a film based on a board game that everyone and their mother has played), all 3 having built in fanbases.

Where as a film like Inception was a huge risk, and paid off big time (though Hollywood has tried their hardest to ignore its success). Even the Avengers had a bit of risk in giving it to a TV show creator who has had huge failures (though huge cult followings) for several of his shows.

To answer your question, I would take the risk, nothing is a safe bet or a sure fire hit. Might as well take a risk in hope of getting a big reward.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Current government policy argues otherwise

As for those protections, last I checked, we were supposed to live in a capitalist free market economy, where even the most basic economics student learns that you don’t “protect” industries, you let them compete. And if they fail, they fail.

Unless of course someone determines you’re “too big to fail”, and then apparently the government will give you lots of the public’s money to protect you from failing.

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

If it were me, I’d use the same “Blue Ocean” strategy that Nintendo used to great effect with the Wii.

Why compete in a “Red Ocean” segment of the market, full of sharks all devouring each other by saturating the market with the same awful product, when you can go after a “Blue Ocean” segment of the market that hardly anyone is catering to?

Competition is significantly less fierce, you open the market up to new customers that are completely ignoring what the “Red Ocean sharks” are doing, and if it works, which it did for Nintendo, you profit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Okay, I give!

Same lie, different day.

First, the farmers already have pitchforks, and the oil refineries have the biggest torches you’ve ever seen to flare off “waste” gas.

Second, the agriculture lobby does not contain any farmers. Farmers are a captive breed kept for the amusement of the seed industry, the agricultural equipment industry, the chemical industry and the food processor industry. Any time that farmers make too much money, there is an adjustment in their prices so that they do not get too rich, i. e. lost profits for their overlords. Just watch, with $8 corn because of the gasohol industry, there will soon be a price hike in all of the above industries to give the farmers just enough to keep going. This will be supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, which will attack HSUS and the organic farming movement as the culprits in this tragedy.

Now eat your Pink Slime and shut up!

Anonymous Coward says:

Seems odd that on one hand, Hollydud is setting records at the box office when they go to talk to the stock holder. When they go to put out items for the public, they are barely staying alive.

Part of the real problem seems to be Hollydud is bankrupt for ideas. It always has been. The material for movies usually comes from books that have had a good run. Lately they’ve turned to comic books as source material. Why? Because everyone growing up read comic books and they are depending on name recognition, not quality, to be the draw.

Think of the movie that came out ‘Hulk’. It was terrible and it did not take the movie going public long to figure it out.

Then you have the constant putting on of a new dress in remakes or clones because one type of movie did well. Those aren’t very well done, they are the equivalent of the music industries filler.

Instead they should concentrate on spending the money on quality movies. More special effects does not make a better movie if it doesn’t further the plot.

Anonymous Coward says:


I’m in the same boat I don’t typically watch Hollywood movies either, much less pirate them. Honestly, the last few years, Hollywood has soured me on the movie format entirely. I’d rather watch a great TV show like Game of Thrones than any movie from any era, I just hate the format these days.

They aren’t even worth my time to watch, so tracking them down, downloading them, virus scanning them, dealing with inferior quality etc etc, is a colossal waste of time and effort.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

It sound kinda alarming...

Remember, your career is on the line. What’s your choice? Take a chance or play it safe?

It depends on what my career is. If my career is producing great creative works, then take a chance. If my career is to capture as much money as possible, then play it safe.

I like to believe that most creative type fall into the former category, because I would have to pity too many of those poor souls if most of them were in the latter.

But, I think I know what the truth is. It shows in the product.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: It sound kinda alarming...

Honestly, I think that many, if not most, of the screenwriters, directors, and actors probably fall into the first category. However, the producers, you know, the ones fronting the money to produce the film, almost certainly fall into the second one.

That’s where the problem is, you need to convince people with money and investors to take a risk, and that can be quite difficult.

creativityisdead says:


Here’s a great article explaining how bad the atmosphere in Hollywood really is.

“You want to understand how bad things are in Hollywood right now?how stifling and airless and cautious the atmosphere is, how little nourishment or encouragement a good new idea receives, and how devoid of ambition the horizon currently appears?it helps to start with a success story.

Consider: Years ago, an ace filmmaker, the man who happened to direct the third-highest-grossing movie in U.S. history, The Dark Knight, came up with an idea for a big summer movie. It’s a story he loved?in fact, he wrote it himself?and it belonged to a genre, the sci-fi action thriller, that zipped right down the center lane of American popular taste. He cast as his leading man a handsome actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who happened to star in the second-highest-grossing movie in history. Finally, to cover his bet even more, he hired half a dozen Oscar nominees and winners for supporting roles.

Sounds like a sure thing, right? Exactly the kind of movie that a studio would die to have and an audience would kill to see? Well, it was. That film, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, received admiring reviews, became last summer’s most discussed movie, and has grossed, as of this writing, more than three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide.

And now the twist: The studios are trying very hard not to notice its success, or to care.”


Anonymous Coward says:

Offering the advice “Make good movies” is no different than telling an alcoholic “Stop drinking” and thinking that this solves the problems.

Mike and Malda make a fatal assumption. It equates making good movies with making successful movies. There are many BAD, truly bad movies that are successful, and many “Good” movies, and great movies too, that are not successful.

How and who is measuring what makes a good movie, and what makes a movie successful? If it is purely about box office dollars, than no wonder most movies are the same formulaic movies. Those are the ones that make money.

Avengers was also a $220,000,000 movie. What if it didn’t cost that much, would it have made as much money? Would as many people have gone to see it in the theaters?

Also, sometimes, the success or “greatness” of a movie isn’t realized until years later.

So, while the Industry didn’t address the article, the article did not address the actual problems or solutions.

Lord Binky says:

Let them shoplift!

If you’re going to boo-hoo about your top customers and do your best to imprison them after they just spent $1,000 in your store and wound up shoplifting a tube of chapstick, then you deserve no customers. That’s what they’re complaining about. Yes, it hurts everyone the store lost a tube of chapstick, but it is insignificant to the overall operation of the store. It is just so stupidly short sighted, just because you get a report at the end of each month and are soooo shocked that you lost 5000 tubes of chapstick to thieves,but for the morals of society itself! we must ignore that those same thieves also brought in $5 million and punish them. Either you want to be a successfull business, or you want to fix the morals of the world, but you can’t do both.

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:


There’s a sliding value scale that you need to understand, or refuse to understand.

On the top end, where for me you find movies like The Avengers (paid to see twice, 3D and 2D, and will buy the DVD/Blu-Ray), the Christopher Nolan Batman movies (paid to see in regular and IMAX, bought 2 DVDs), The Road (paid once, bought DVD), Inception (paid once, given DVD), and The Prestige (paid once, bought DVD), the value of the movie is sufficient to warrant a theater viewing and/or DVD purchase. I will watch a good movie in theaters, and I’ll buy it on DVD when it comes out. Once I buy it, I’ll rip and format-shift the DVD to my heart’s content, but I like having that physical media.

Good movies = I spend more money

Mid-range movies may earn a theater viewing or a rental, even both, but aren’t good enough to justify the DVD purchase, at least not at full price.

Okay movies = I spend some money

Then we come to the bottom of the scale. Low-value movies don’t warrant any up-front money. If I never downloaded movies, then I’d never see these. However, since downloading is free and, for those who know how to protect themselves, consequence-free, I figure it’s worthwhile to take up a gig of HDD space to see if there’s anything redeeming about the movie.

Bad movies = my curiosity, or the absence of apathy, but no money

I download them because I can, not because I can’t live without them. If things change to the point that I can’t download, then I won’t. I just won’t watch them at all. Before torrents, I just didn’t watch as many movies.
Net loss to Hollywood – Zero, with the possibility of a small gain if I actually like something enough to grab a bargain DVD.

BTW, I won’t even download Battleship, just as I didn’t download the last Transformers movie. Some things aren’t even worth the easily cleared HDD space.

Michael Bay = ostracism and a middle finger

Anonymous Coward says:

“This is a bit like condoning shoplifting if it?s done at a successful store.”

I am so torn over this. And I really have been thinking a lot on that the past few weeks reading Techdirt. And sorry a head of time for the long post.

If you listen to the whining, you’d think the Big 6 are suffering Dickensian levels of hardship. At least, that is how they are presenting themselves to congress. ‘Please sir, may I have … more [stricter IP law].’

And what is galling is they claim to congress that their business is losing money due to ‘theft’ – thereby playing the victim to yet another level of hardship. They aren’t just the orphan starving out in the cold, they are the mugged orphan begging for a hand out.

Yet, they claim (when they want to drop their pants and wag it) that they bolster the economy, they contribute ‘5 trillion’ and are responsible for ‘2.2 million jobs’. – That does not sound like a struggling business. They clearly think themselves ‘the successful store’ from above. And I can think when I see them spouting such lines is: ‘if it is such a successful business then why do they need the government to hold their hand?’

What they claim to congress is not the same as what they claim to the average Joe. They have to know that what they say, for good or ill, gets read by thousands of people. Possibly millions, with so many people now interested in the affairs of the internet, censorship, IP laws, and whether or not someones going to be hindering or harming their way of life. What was once back room, or business page material is now front page material in a post-SOPA world.

They want people to think them strong, and proud, and worth investing in – by the wagging mentioned above. Has to be the case, they have investors and they have people that are holding their purse strings – even as they are throwing money that should be put elsewhere at lobbyists and lawyers and possibly even shady and quasi-legal protection rackets to ‘plug up the tubes*’ of the evil pirate filled internet.

But I don’t know if this is the case, but its entirely possible that they are stuck thinking that what they say is in some way private – or that no one really important will read the reports of all the bolster and threats – and the whining and the begging side by side. And in some ways, that is just sad. A council that represents the entertainment and media body, not knowing how things are distributed through the very medium they quasi-own? My mind shudders from thinking too deep on that particular thought that these people are in charge of something so pervasive.

However, back to the successful store analogy, they clearly have this mental image of being a Neo-Best Buy or Amazon or some other tech-and-media distribution hub. A fabled one-stop-shop of all things entertainment. They are more like my old neighborhood Circuit City. Their models were out dated, their business practices were stone-age, they waste their money and then ask for a do over, meanwhile their distribution methods was a joke with a bad punchline – and they could not keep up with the new start ups that learned from their very public mistakes, that were able to provide the services and goods the consumer wanted, when they wanted it, and how they wanted it without the hassle and the aggravation and the hang ups.

And perhaps you were thinking that I was talking about the Big 6 and the MPAA, and their rivals of Netflix and other innovative entertainment technology but you’d be wrong. I was talking about Circuit City. If you thought they were they appear to similar to one another, then perhaps in some sort of metaphysical appreciation of the situation – I have to imagine, beneath all the denial – they realize it themselves. That is why they are trying to boss around anyone who will listen.


In the mean time, “The Avengers” was fantastic. I went to go see it for a number of reasons – the smart clips and hints that had been building for a decade, the winks and nods, and the investment that the studio made me feel as I had watched the entire saga start piece itself together in front of me. I grew up around the comics, not always an avid reader but ‘knew’ enough about them to consider myself a fan. This was a ‘childish’ thing that very much was worth adapting to a live action film. (The Easter Eggs in the films were also very awesome, and that is part of the joy I feel when watching a Pixar movie, hints as to what the next one is going to be.) And yes, because everyone I knew was talking about it. No matter where I went, tweets, posts, memes and general buzz abounded “This was [bleeping] fantastic.”

However, I did not go see “Battleship” for the exact opposite reasons. What few, if any, fond memories I have of a children’s toy as simple as “Battleship” do not need to be ruined by a movie. Especially one that did not make any sense to what I remembered of the game. And the buzz, was “this is [bleeping] terrible.” Expect the same sort of buzz in two years, when Stretch Armstrong, the (possible) live action adaption that will be in 2014.

*Dated reference for a dated mindset.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why are people always trying so hard to talk Hollydead out of its suicidal behavior?

Let the slimy fuckers kill themselves. They’re relics of a bygone era. We can use the bodies for shark-bait.

In a hundred years, history will remember Hollydead with a fondmess similar to how one feels about someone else’s bad-smelling fart.

Anonymous Coward says:


“So, while the Industry didn’t address the article, the article did not address the actual problems or solutions.”

And as has been stated before, it is NOT anyone else’s job to address the problems or give solutions. Even if someone does so, they’re just ignored for the usual “but, but, but piracy” rhetoric.

What is the actual problem? People download stuff? So what? It’s happening. Nothing can be done about it. Move on. (And acknowledging piracy happens and won’t be stopped DOES NOT mean one condones it.)Focus on maximizing revenue regarding those who will pay. Namely, stop remaking the same old stuff over and over again. Give us something new. Be creative.

Solution to downloading? GIVE THE PEOPLE LEGAL ALTERNATIVES WITH NO RESTRICTIONS, NO WINDOWED RELEASES BASED ON GEOGRAPHY, AT REASONABLE PRICES AND AS THEY WANT IT. (By that last part I mean in a variety of formats.) That’s how you beat piracy. Research and studies have proven that, legal alternatives in high piracy countries cause levels of piracy to go down. Take away legal alternatives, piracy goes up. It’s not that f*cking hard to figure out, unless you’re an idiot.

The solution as I stated is simple and the problem even simpler. Problem, unmet market demand. And sorry to say, but the customers do get to dictate terms. You want their money. You’ll do what you need to, whether you like it or not, to get it. Solution, listen to what they want and then give it to them. Easy peasy.

PaulT (profile) says:


“I still can’t figure out why people pirate all these bad movies.

Unless of course they aren’t that bad, and really you are just trying to justify piracy.”

Well, I think one of the main reasons is that you can’t tell what’s bad. With modern film prices, audiences have to be choosy, and reviews, etc. can be unreliable (read: paid off by studios), while every film on IMDB seems to be simultaneous called the best and worst film ever. On top of that, cinema prices can be ridiculous, especially for blockbuster and animation films that might invite whole families. People simply can’t afford to go and watch everything.

With piracy, a good film can still drive people into cinemas. An unknown quantity can be checked out with piracy. If that option isn’t available, people won’t automatically go to every movie. They may just wait for Netflix or cable. Piracy also gives them more choice of independent and other films that simply don’t get releases wide enough to reach those outside of certain major cities, not to mention the huge number of movies people can’t watch because they’re been restricted in some way by windowing (yet The Avengers had a near-worldwide release within a couple of weeks… hmmm…).

With piracy, people may still choose to go to the cinema and watch the film, or pre-order a DVD to buy instead of just renting. But they may not bother at all if the preview isn’t available. The film at the cinema looks crappy, but this movie on TV looks more interesting…

(for the hard of thinking, no this is not a justification fo piracy, just an explanation of why it happens).

PaulT (profile) says:

It sound kinda alarming...

“You have two scripts, one quirky and on a screwball theme no one’s tried before. The other is a remake of a highly popular ’60s TV show.”

There’s thousand other factors of course. How much does the quirky project cost vs. the TV show? How much of a fanbase does the show actually have, especially internationally (few people outside the US really remember Wild Wild West or Land Of The Lost, for example, and they flopped despite star power and a big budget)? Does the guy bringing the quirky idea have a track record and fanbase?

Remember, Inception was a massive hit despite being totally out there by Hollywood rules, and films like Paranormal Activity quite happily exceed their budgets at lower levels. Meanwhile, adapted films like Speed Racer and The Last Airbender have been flops and some absolutely disasters happen occasionally despite looking great on paper (Cowboys & Aliens, John Carter and Dark Shadows seem to fit this description).

It’s all about risk vs. potential reward, and bigger budget cookie cutter projects seem to becoming increasingly less guaranteed of success. If a studio exec is lazy and only looks at one factor, or some nebulous trend, they only have themselves to blame for failure if the bland nature of the finished product is the cause. Film producers trying to play it safe have been responsible for some massive failures in their time, just by trying to do that…

PaulT (profile) says:


“Not to mention that the majority of the top 20 all time grossing films came out after 2000.”

I’ll be fair here and admit that higher ticket prices probably have a lot to do with that, plus there’s physically a lot more cinemas than before then.

But, even adjusted for inflation (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm), there’s still 2 movies from this year alone…

Anonymous Coward says:

Remember, your career is on the line. What’s your choice? Take a chance or play it safe?

It depends on what my career is. If my career is producing great creative works, then take a chance. If my career is to capture as much money as possible, then play it safe.

I like to believe that most creative type fall into the former category, because I would have to pity too many of those poor souls if most of them were in the latter.

But, I think I know what the truth is. It shows in the product.

I think it is better summed up as “the only artist that should not be a starving artist is a big name movie actor.”

What I really want to know is, with these directors getting paid so much, the actors getting paid so much, and the execs getting paid so much- Why is the pay pyramid so top heavy?

What about the sound techs, the cameramen, the video editors and multitude of other little people that do the real work? Or the ones that get canned mid-project like in the video game industry so that studios can afford not to pay people as much as they can?

I can’t really think of a time when an artist was able to make as much as they do now, in any time in history. Maybe I am wrong, and the pay scales have always been the same – but if that were the case – why aren’t more big name movie stars starving to death instead of living it up in million dollar homes, vacationing around the world, and having outlandish parties and crippling drug addictions? Actually, that last one is par for the course. Carry on.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:


Dollhouse aside, I’d help Kickstart anything Whedon proposed.

I actually liked Dollhouse (ok, so to each their own.) A little too much like La Femme Nikita, but it wasn’t bad. Not Firefly or Buffy, but the humor was there and the writing wasn’t bad. Whedon would have my support too, but then again, he’s had it in the past. I’d love to see more straight to DVD stuff from him though, and bypass the idiots in Hollywood and give the fans what they want instead. Or start doing stuff like Nerdist/Geek & Sundry and start his own channel.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


I think it is better summed up as “the only artist that should not be a starving artist is a big name movie actor.”

I disagree, unless your definition of “starving artist” is one who makes less than a million or so a year.

I agree with the rest of your comments. There is no question that there is an elite in the mainstream movie business that is wildly overcompensated.

AdamBv1 (profile) says:


Add another backer to the list, this looks fantastic.

What we need is more projects like this. Everyone working on this started doing this because it was a story they wanted to tell and they worked their day jobs and used donated time and effort by fellow believers to make it happen. I’m more than happy to pitch in to get the finishing touches put on it.

AB says:

It sound kinda alarming...

I would too, but neither of us is the CEO of a multimillion dollar invest- sorry – ‘production’ company being held accountable by the share holders. Big risks are great for young and coming individuals like those who once built Hollywood, not for established agencies like those currently controlling Hollywood.

AB says:

2.2 million jobs = $2 million per worker

What’s really interesting is that $5 trillion split 2.2 million ways means *each* of those people has an income of over $2 million… unless you use the usual 10/90% split in which case just 200 thousand people have incomes of over $20 million each. That also implies that the entire film industry is being controlled by less than 0.1% of the population.

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

“Even the Avengers had a bit of risk in giving it to a TV show creator who has had huge failures (though huge cult followings) for several of his shows.”

If your definition of failure is to make a profit, but not as much as the network wanted, then sure. That “failure” probably wasn’t helped by networks forcing Joss Wheden to add and remove content. It probably had nothing to do with episodes being aired out of order even though his series have persistent story lines either.

It’s a running theme for the industry. They try to control someone or something they shouldn’t (writers, producers, lawmakers, distribution methods, etc) and cry about it when they get poor results.

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

This is exactly why the industry needs to be reorganized without the MPAA (or with a reduced role for it) and with much smaller players. Being the big company on the street reduces the rewards for risk-taking and increases the crap we get instead.

To whoever mentioned Battleship, nail, meet hammer. I feel badly for whoever tried to put that trailer together. There clearly wasn’t much to work with.

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

The Last Airbender didn’t flop because it was a remake. It flopped because it infuriated a huge and vocal segment of its built-in fanbase. Oh, hey, adults were watching that, and they care about whitewashing! Who’d have thought? (Well, anyone who was a fan of the show personally instead of through their child and had connected with the fanbase at all….)

I guess that means underestimating your audience’s intelligence counts as one of those many elements to look at before choosing a project.

PaulT (profile) says:

It sound kinda alarming...

Yeah, that was kind of my point in there. Airbender didn’t flop simply because it was a TV adaptation of course, but nor was it a guaranteed hit, as history showed. There’s a lot more that goes into success vs. failure than Michael above implied (and by extension Hollywood producers themselves realise). Part of it’s the treatment of the source material, but there’s much more to it than that.

My point was this: it’s 2009 and you need to pick a film to release in 2010. There’s 2 scripts with talent attached to them. Pick one – the genre-bending “risky” script or the “safe” TV adaptation with the built in fanbase. You want the “safe” option? Ooops, you picked The Last Airbender, which only made $131 million domestically from a $150 million production budget (and similar overseas). The guy who picked the “risky” script got Inception, which made $292 million from a $160 million production budget (and $530 million overseas).

The “safe” options are sometimes just as risky as the more ambitious projects, and it’s about time Hollywood stopped churning out bland crap then blaming “piracy” when they fail to generate interest.

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

He’s had failure in that one of his first (or was it his first?) movies bombed (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and at least two of his shows were taken off the air prematurely. (Having your show canceled in the first or second season on TV is absolutely a failure. For whatever reason, Firefly and Dollhouse failed. The fact that Firefly made money and drew a huge following posthumously doesn’t change the fact that it was a failure on TV, and could have been so much more if FOX didn’t suck).

Of course he’s had critical success and has made money, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still had commercial failures on TV and Movies.

None of that takes away the fact that he’s a genius. But from a bean counter’s point of view, he was absolutely a risk.

A TV guy, who had never seen success on a major network, had never had major success in movies (Serenity did ok, but not well enough to put him in the same league as Christopher Nolan) and was handed Avengers (which fortunately did put him in the same league as Nolan).

Of course us fans know he’s up for it, and he proved us right. But that doesn’t mean people investing 200+ million dollars didn’t see it as risky.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:


I still can’t figure out why people pirate all these bad movies.

Unless of course they aren’t that bad, and really you are just trying to justify piracy.

Well since you also can’t figure out the difference between someone spending some of their time and someone spending some of their time and $40 that’s hardly a suprise.

Anonymous Coward says:

It sound kinda alarming...

I think this year is showing us just that.

3 “safe” options have failed pretty miserably (Dark Shadows, Battleship and John Carter – heads are rolling over those), while the riskier (albeit not that much riskier – Avengers is still a pretty safe bet, even with an unproven Director/writer) one has succeeded. (Yes, I know Joss Whedon rocks, but that still doesn’t mean he had proven he could draw a mega audience, though I’m glad he has, I just hope he goes back to TV now and gets left alone to do his own thing, and doesn’t get sucked into doing nothing but comic book movies now, plus can’t wait for his internet stuff).

Maybe next year will be the year Hollywood wakes up and realizes that they can’t keep feeding people the same pile of cow manure and calling it a filet mignon. Doubt it, but one can certainly hope.

Chargone (profile) says:

Current government policy argues otherwise

i maintain that anything which achieves ‘too big to fail’ must first pass through ‘too big to be allowed to exist’, at which point it should be broken up in the name of not crippling everything when inevitably some moron in a position of power decides screwing over half the planet is worth it for a one off few million extra on top of their already ridiculously high salaries.

Chargone (profile) says:


i’d actually rate buying the dvd as a better idea for stuff you’re unsure of than going to the theater. experience is generally no worse, if it’s good enough to show your friends you can just invite them over and play it again rather than all having to shell out just shy of the dvd purchase value each, if you’re not that fussed on it and one of your friends is you can give it to them as a gift, or, failing that, at the very least you can sell it and get some of your money back.

none of these are doable with a movie ticket. (and around here the movie ticket, last i checked, was, depending on time of day, theater and movie, as much as NZ$17 or so while the dvd is NZ$20.( there are some smaller theaters around that show movies from, oh, say, 9+ months ago cheaper, things like that))

personally, for rentals, i generally only ever bothered renting older stuff that other people recommended. paying almost half the cost of buying the thing to borrow it for one night? not happening. (a bit less for several dvds for a week, on the other hand, totally worth it. one of the places that used to be around here was 7 for 7 days for 7 dollars or something. though most of the rental places (not all, mind) have closed down here-abouts. it’s actually that much more convenient and better value for money to buy the things yourself these days, generally speaking, even before taking into account streaming, piracy, or anything else.)

Chargone (profile) says:



and that, Right There, is what is wrong with most of the big games companies, too.

“EVERYTHING must be a shooter! EVERYTHING! and we must claim that they are all RPGs too! even when they are blatantly NOT! and we shall claim they are sequels to DECADES OLD GAMES that were NOT SHOOTERS. MWAHAHAHA*dies from repeated stabbing by the entire subset of their customers that actually have functional brains and memories of games that Didn’t suck.*”

meanwhile, Sega manages to crank out Really oddball games in smaller Genres that are made of Awesome, Paradox owns everyone at grand strategy games (seriously, these are abstract map based things, with historical settings, on their second or third versions each, and they’re Still Awesome. let’s start at some point in 1399 (or any day thereafter) as any country that existed as a cohesive entity at the time and run it up to 1821 or so… hyper-teched up representative republican Russia with a southern sea-coast in the Persian gulf, anyone? Burgundian empire stretching across the world? and that’s before the fan made converters and other games that let you carry that world on until about the Korean war or so.) Koei cranks out entertaining beat-em-ups by the bucketload (a lot of them are sort of shovelware ‘they barely changed much from the last version’ games… but they’re good Enough (actaully, the Only thing wrong with most of them is that you’d usually barely notice it if you only bought every second or iteration or so unless you were a major fan, and that Koei clearly doesn’t pay enough for their review scores :P), and have a huge fanbase, which funds the production of their MUCH more adventurous projects, many of which are Brilliant, some of which aren’t.)

and so on.

they actually seem to follow similar patterns in what they put out, too.

one or two franchises that are of decent but not spectacular quality and/or budget, never bad enough to drive people away but not too adventurous, change it up just enough that people come back time and again. these make money consistently and keep you in the black.

make unusual and adventurous projects on at least a semi-regular basis, to a high quality (though not necessarily a high budget. perhaps specifically NOT a high budget.) try new and interesting things. so long as the only time they’re ever worse than your average bill paying product is when you tried something Really new and interesting and it didn’t work out right, even if you’re only serving niche markets with them, this builds up good will… and every now and then you’ll stumble on the perfect combination at exactly the right time and rake it in off one of these. (at the very least, if you’re making a loss more than occasionally, you’re probably doing it wrong… though sometimes if you target a small niche you’ll make a loss if it’s too small.. but the goodwill gain is still huge.)

that seems to be at least roughly the basis of the pattern.

might even work for the movie companies. (of course, so would not rigging the entire system to be so blatantly corrupt… highest grossing film ever, film still makes a loss, film Studio makes record profits, but it’s employees’ jobs are in danger… riiiiight.)

houstonspace (profile) says:

Hollywood used to make lots and lots of small movies every year – now they think they need to rely on huge blockbusters. I would take 30 small movies from a studio that are well written and entertaining (and profitable for the studio), than 2 or 3 huge movies that, more often than not, suck. I’m at a point where I see most of those shitty blockbusters at the dollar theater or wait until they hit Red Box or Netflix. The studio doesn’t really get much my money. Aside from The Avengers, I have not been too impressed with hollywood this year. I’m just really bored by their offerings. I would go to the movies twice a week if they actually produced something worth watching.

bnw (user link) says:

People have been saying that there is a correlation between the degree of illegal sharing of movies and music and their financial success, as if the former helps the latter. Correlation doesn’t mean causation. I think it’s just the opposite – the more popular a movie gets the more people will download it off the internet – simple and makes sense! While piracy is indeed a problem, that’s not the reason why shitty movies can’t make money – they’re just shitty and no one will give their money for the sake of sitting in a chair, bored to death for 2 hours! Unfortunately this seems really hard to understand for some… Special effects don’t make a good movie, the story, actors, and the rest of the staff do!

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