Why People Pirate: The Story Of Avatar
from the three-years-later dept
When I began thinking about writing this post, I wanted to start with the opening line “Remember Avatar?” Then I stopped, shook my head, and figured that such an opening line would be ridiculous. After all, Avatar is the highest worldwide grossing movie of all time. Despite everyone on the planet apparently believing that the movie was based on something they had themselves done, the movie essentially ushered in the era of the 3D movie experience for our generation. I mean, come on, it's Avatar.
But then I thought about it a little longer. When's the last time I heard anyone talk about this groundbreaking movie? Months ago? Years ago? Wait, when did this thing come out? 2009? Is that really correct? Is anyone really thinking about this movie anymore? So, because of all those questions, I give you this:
Remember Avatar? You should, for all the reasons mentioned above, but you may see the movie mentioned again now that Fox will finally release the 3D Collector's Edition Blu-Ray of the film. It's one hell of a release window for the 3D version of the movie. And some, like Gizmodo, are pointing to story of how it happened to explain why people turn to infringment for the entertainment they want.
On April 22, 2010, [Avatar] is released on DVD. It's now August 14, 2012. In what world does it make sense for the movie that basically defibrillated the entire notion of 3D movies to take three damn years to make a wide release on 3D Blu-ray? Ours, apparently.
Here's how we got here: Panasonic got in bed with Avatar early on, promoting the film with 103 trucks with giant 3D TVs on them. That was kind of cool, actually. But then, it turned out you could only buy the 3D Blu-ray with a Panasonic 3D TV. Which turned out to cost, all things considered, about 300 damn dollars for a $30 Blu-ray, no matter how you spun it. Totally dumb, totally anti-consumer.
So, through a complicated series of exclusive contract hoops, Fox essentially set up a monetary obstacle course all the way back in late 2010. If you wanted Avatar in 3D, you had to buy a television at a price that far exceeded any added value from the movie. You know who likes obstacle courses built almost two years ago? Time-travelling hamsters, that's who. Last time I checked, there aren't a great deal of time-travelling hamsters paying for movies.
And neither were the people who wanted the 3D version of Avatar, apparently. Panasonic posted huge losses in the television space. Avatar went on to become the most pirated movie of all time. And the Gizmodo piece points the finger directly at Fox:
All of this matters. Especially right now. Demonoid just went down for the count. The RIAA and MPAA want the US to stomp on the Pirate Bay the same way. And we're just a few months removed from the Supreme Court declining to hear an appeal for a $675,000 fine levied against Joel Tenenbaum for, as a teen, downloading a few dozen songs. The subtext is clear. It's not even subtext—it's super-text. We are the assholes. It's our fault that movies are bad and the music industry can't figure out how to monetize itself. And the copyright gestapo is coming for us. That's the message, the threat, looming over every idiotic decision that pushes us closer to BitTorrent.
And in the meantime, as all of this anti-consumer-ish-ness is being dolled up in a wig and a makeup and called “a business model”, fans of Avatar will finally be able to get the movie in 3D in October. Yes, a movie designed to be watched with cardboard skittles goggles on your head wasn't available across the board for three damned years. That isn't a release window. It's a message to the movie's fans:
Fox doesn't give a damn about you.