New Study: Megaupload Shutdown May Have Hurt Box Office For Smaller Movies
from the makes-sense dept
TorrentFreak points us to an interesting new study from Christian Peukert of the Munich School of Management, and Jorg Claussen from the Copenhagen Business School, that looks at the shutdown of Megaupload to see if they can determine what impact it had on the box office for various movies. The findings are probably not what Hollywood wanted to see: basically, the evidence shows that taking down Megaupload didn’t suddenly send people running back to the theaters. In fact, for many, many movies there appeared to be a tiny decrease in box office take, though the results are not statistically significant. The one exception to this was for “blockbuster” films that appeared on more than 500 screens. There there was a similarly tiny increase in box office. Considering that the MPAA and studio heads keep insisting that they’re really concerned about indie filmmakers when they try to stamp out piracy, this suggests they may be doing it wrong.
Of course, you shouldn’t read too much into non-statistically significant findings, but at the very least the data does pretty clearly show that there wasn’t a sudden rush by people to go back to the theaters once Megaupload went away. Furthermore, it’s possible that at least some movies — perhaps a lot of movies — were slightly harmed by less word of mouth. As the researchers note:
Our counterintuitive finding may suggest support for the theoretical perspective of (social) network effects where file-sharing acts as a mechanism to spread information about a good from consumers with zero or low willingness to pay to users with high willingness to pay. The information-spreading effect of illegal downloads seems to be especially important for movies with smaller audiences.
At the very least, it seems like a good area of research that deserves more study going forward.