Piracy Continues Killing The Movie Business To New Record Highs

from the yet-again dept

So, earlier this week, the MPAA came out with its annual report that shows that once again, its box office take hit new record highs. This same thing happens basically every year, so we almost didn’t cover it at all this year. It’s kind of old news. But people keep submitting it, and so we’ll oblige, but mainly for the chance to repeat BoingBoing’s awesome title on its story over this: Motion picture industry continues to stagger under piracy with mere record-breaking income.

You can read the MPAA’s full PDF right here, though for reasons that make no sense at all, they will block you from reading the PDF if you have javascript or cookies disabled. For a PDF? Really guys? There is no reason at all that anyone ever needs cookies or javascript to read a PDF file.

The report further notes that ticket prices have continued to rise pretty consistently over the past decade from a $6.21 average price in 2004 to $8.13 last year. For an industry supposedly being destroyed, you’d think they wouldn’t be able to get away with raising prices… but, apparently (as we’ve been pointing out for nearly two decades) going to the movies is a different experience than downloading a film and people are paying for that experience.

And, yes, just to cut off the line of criticism: this only applies to theatrical revenue, and not home viewership. But that’s somewhat a red herring, given that, if left to the movie industry, there basically would be no home video market to speak of at all.

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Comments on “Piracy Continues Killing The Movie Business To New Record Highs”

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94 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Every year you come up with the same tired shit and force me to respond. So again this year:

1. On average, films with a N. American box office release make about 25% of their overall revenue at the box office. All the rest come from downstream sources. The same sources that are subject to the corrosive effect of piracy.

2. Low budget motion pictures, which are most vulnerable to piracy don’t get box office revenue, by-and-large. They have a particularly difficult time finding funding as lenders know without that box office revenue, it is a much greater risk to fund a motion picture.

Please try to pay attention this year so I don’t have to come back and school you again on this subject in ’15.

filmmaker6 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The ignorance on this thread is unbelievable. If you have an independent low-budget film worth watching you can see it illegally downloaded tens of thousands of times while you see zero money from paychecks from your distributor, because NO ONE is buying it and stores are returning unsold copies, although somehow thousands and thousands of people are watching it. Try spending half a million dollars of other peoples’ money and making almost nothing back, while tens of thousands of people are sharing your movie for free, and then try getting funding for a second project. Not only are they sharing it for free, but they are sharing it for free for years and years, so that even if you have a “cult” film, as I do, you will never see any money. Producers can’t afford to continue to pay actors and crew and for locations if no one is willing to pay to see the product, so what you get in the end are two choices – mega-budget Hollywood films, and crappy no-budget films. You are is essence killing the small interesting films that might otherwise get made.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: It gets even better.

They are also subject to the corrosive effect of free market capitalism.

There’s the glut of supply. There’s the low prices of older content caused by that glut of supply. Then there’s “evil” stuff like Netflix. I don’t need to “buy” things. I can rent them very cheaply. I can either be distracted by legitimate and nearly free sources of content, or just use those same channels to pay the minimum amount I can get away with.

With my home theater, I have very little motivation to bother with the real thing. With Netflix, I can just get the BluRay for the marginal cost of NOTHING.

With all of the built in home theaters that come with McMansions in the suburbs, I am surprised that people go to the movies anymore as much as they do.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It would be easier for you to be believed if the Star Wars franchise had finally recouped.

Perhaps the problem with the “low budget” films is the fact they try and follow the failing model used by the big players because they have the insane belief that is the only way for a film to make money. Perhaps if they handled their own distribution with a company who didn’t offer them a crappier deal to make sure the big guys don’t punish them they would be better off and get better market penetration…
or perhaps crap films make crap money because… they are crap.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 28th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

Why, will that be the year you finally decide to have a conversation armed with facts rather than spew out some opinion and expect everyone to believe you without question?

Try starting with cited figures (the industry is terrible at releasing accurate non-theatrical figures, so I’d like to know your sources), then try addressing the very real fact that restrictions and not piracy is often the sources of any supposed “losses”.

SolkeshNaranek says:

Re: Re:

After reading your statements, then the replies, it seems as if you haven’t schooled anyone.

It does appear your replies come from a script of talking points supplied by your handlers.

If that is so, your “masters” appear to be very stupid and out of touch with reality. They also seem to be deeply mired in denial.

On the other hand, if those points you thought you were making came out of your head, then you seem to be the stupid one.

Regurgitating points long ago proved to be lies and distortions will convince no one that can read and knows to avoid the bullshit spewed by the copyright maximalists.

Oh, and by the way, if the ideas you wrote are indeed yours, then your handlers should still be considered stupid for hiring someone as ill equipped to do battle on their behalf as you seem to be.

Perhaps you should retire from writing until you become knowledgeable enough to form some accurate and informed opinions.

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 28th, 2014 @ 1:06pm

That seems all rather moot given the subject here. The industry continues to thrive despite the hysterics of corporate shills such as yourself.

The destruction of personal rights in favor of corporate ones are clearly not necessary. Neither are expansive copyright powers or the overhanded enforcement tactics that come along with.

The studios are the biggest thieves of them all.

David Prowse is still waiting for the Star Wars films to make a profit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Low budget motion pictures, which are most vulnerable to piracy”

You are a joke. Every time an independent artist comes out and says that piracy helped to spread the word about his work you chucklefucks come and say nobody downloads/pirates indie shit. And now suddenly they’re “vulnerable to piracy”?

You get schooled on this subject every week of the year.

Coogan (profile) says:

There is no reason at all that anyone ever needs cookies or javascript to read a PDF file.

How else are they going to track you when that public MPAA report shows up on torrent sites? This is the MPAA – even freely available pubic data must be subject to rigorous distribution controls. Just like everything else they put out, this report can ONLY be distributed through the MPAA’s authorized sources.

Once you’ve gone control-freak to the magnitude that the MPAA has, you can’t just do a 180 and start half-assing it.

ECA (profile) says:

closed market

For those interested..
Who knows Where Theaters get FOOD and goods from..
they have to be registered to a group and ONLY buy from that GROUP..
Can you say SAME AS ‘ girl scout cookies’..
Where you could go tot he STORE and buy it for about 1/2 the price.
MOST of the money EARNED at the theater is from goods sold, the movie is rented/leased to DRAW you in to sell you goods.

MIDDLE MAN to death..is that a concept?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You don’t have it so bad. $16 would be a good price in my part of the US. 3D versions usually cost north of $25 (I still don’t understand why people see the 3D versions at any price, let alone at a premium, but that’s a different rant altogether).

I remember concession lines being quite long when I was a kid, whereas nowadays there is rarely a line for them at all even for movies that are sold out. So you’re not the only one who finds them insane. Most people just don’t buy anything at the concession stands at all anymore.

ethical (profile) says:

US Home Video Revenue Down 25% Since BitTorrent

2013 US Home Video Revenues were $18.2B which includes DVD, BluRay, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, HBO Go, Vudu, Apple iTunes, PPV, VOD. This is a $8B loss since $26B in 2006 due to piracy. This article is completely disingenuous. Why would piracy affect theater attendance? It competes with home viewing.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: US Home Video Revenue Down 25% Since BitTorrent

Nonsense, everyone knows that when times are tight, and money becomes scarce, the first thing you ditch to cut costs are those ‘trivialities’ like food, house payments, transportation and the like, while the last thing people would ever ‘trim out’ would be movies and other forms of entertainment!

tanj says:

Re: US Home Video Revenue Down 25% Since BitTorrent

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/personal/2014/01/13/home-entertainment-sales-rise-2013/4456151/

Digital sales are up 50%.

What you’re seeing is the decline of physical media. If piracy is the reason for the decline why are digital sales growing so quickly?

The decline of the record industry is the result of unbundling. People are buying more singles than ever, but the industry is making less profit because they can’t charge people for music they don’t want.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2013/jul/12/singles-sales-music-industry-albums

the truth says:

sick sheep!

I can’t believe people are defending the industry here Ha ha. May I direct people to let’s talk bitcoin episode 92 (latest one) and see how we are already moving on and into micro payments directly to the artist! Fuck these THIEVES! We do not need these idiots (of governments, banks, lawyers, solicitors, advertisers etc etc)

LAB (profile) says:

So… box office revenue has gone up as ticket prices have gone up and ….piracy has had no effect on the movie business. Piracy effects the sale of DVDs other platforms after release. Why continually mis-frame the issue. I can only assume you believe that more movies are released in 3-D because it is cool and not an effort to persuade patrons to go to the box office. In other techdirt news, piracy doesn’t effect the music business either….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Piracy effects the sale of DVDs other platforms after release.”

Then why is the usage of Netflix increasing? After all if piracy was a problem then the usage of Netflix wouldn’t be increasing wouold it. Guess people find it more convinient to use Netflix and pay to stream then to buy a dvd. Strange how piracy doesn’t affect Netflix.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

Nobody has ever claimed that “piracy has had no effect on the movie business”. It’s the likes of you that ” continually mis-frame the issue”.

What people take strong issue with is the loud and continuous claim that piracy is the sole cause of massive industry losses, while doing your best to ignore or obfuscate the non-piritanical causes that are largely of the industry’s own making or beyond anyone’s control (GFC), and grossly over-stating the dire state of the industry.

Here’s a tip, change the message because nobody believes you.

LAB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Nobody has ever claimed that “piracy has had no effect on the movie business”.

What is the title of this article?

“Piracy Continues Killing The Movie Business To New Record Highs.”

It’s the likes of you that ” continually mis-frame the issue.”

Mis-framing the issue is showing the revenue generated from ticket sales and trying to say piracy has had no effect or little on the movie business. So by the same logic, piracy has not effected the music business because of the number of people that go to concerts?

“What people take strong issue with is the loud and continuous claim that piracy is the sole cause of massive industry losses.”

So industries that lose money to piracy should do nothing about it and not try to combat it? I don’t understand the logic and no other industries would be inactive if a consumer could acquire product for free.

“Here’s a tip, change the message because nobody believes you.”

I didn’t know I was the voice of the movie and movie business. But I will take your tip under consideration.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So industries that lose money to piracy should do nothing about it and not try to combat it? I don’t understand the logic and no other industries would be inactive if a consumer could acquire product for free.

When those actions to ‘combat piracy’ have shown time and time again to be completely useless at causing more than a blip in piracy rates, while at the same time screwing over everyone in major ways, yeah, I really wish they would do ‘nothing’, if that’s the only alternative.

However, as this site has pointed out for years now, with countless examples to back it up, the best way to fight piracy is not more laws and harsher enforcement, it’s to provide a better service for a reasonable price.

That’s it.

If the ‘entertainment’ industries really wanted to ‘stop piracy’, they could do so, and in fact it wouldn’t take much effort at all to absolutely decimate piracy rates, and increase profits and customers enormously.

Probably the best example of this is Netflix. Whenever that service enters an area, piracy rates plummet, as people are more than willing to pay a reasonable price for access to content if it’s made available to them.

Mind, this is even with services like Netflix being crippled by the ‘entertainment’ industries via restrictive licensing, where they only get to show what they are allowed to show, think of how popular and effective at drawing people away from piracy they’d be if they were truly able to compete on content with filesharing sites.

However, strip away the illusion that the reason they’re doing what they are is to ‘combat piracy’, and you see what it’s really about: control.

As I said, they could all but eliminate piracy, but choose not to, and it’s because to do so would require them to hand over the control of their content.

DRM is one of the factors that drive people to piracy, so that would have to go, and all the control it grants them as well.

Lucrative ‘exclusive licensing deals’ drive people to piracy, by locking content into services that are either prohibitively expensive(due to the ‘exclusivity’), or flat out not available in certain regions, so those would have to go too.

Region locking/pricing drives people to piracy, by making it so the same content either comes out at drastically different times depending on where you live, or never in some cases, so they’d have to treat the distribution network that is the internet as what it is, global, and price and make available the content accordingly.

Lack of availability drives people to piracy, it’s kinda hard to buy a movie or song/album if it’s not available for some reason(with the previously mentioned ‘exclusive licensing’ and ‘region locks’ being the prime culprits here), so they’d need to make their content, all of it, available.

Ease of use/access drives people to piracy, it doesn’t matter if the content is available, if paying for and watching it involves signing up for a bunch of different services, and jumping through dozens of hoops before you can get to it, so they’d need to streamline that and make it easy to pay, and easy to watch/listen.

Excessive pricing drives people to piracy, people don’t like feeling ripped off, and charging the same price for a temporary digital good as it would cost to buy the physical version will certainly get people upset, so if people are only ‘licensing‘ a movie/album, not buying it, the price needs to drop, significantly, to reflect that.

There are a ton of ways they could decrease piracy, if they truly wished to, but at the core the only reason they care about ‘piracy’ is that it gives them an excuse, a ‘justification’, to buy more and harsher laws to maintain the control and power that they believe they are due.

LAB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Ease of use/access drives people to piracy, it doesn’t matter if the content is available, if paying for and watching it involves signing up for a bunch of different services, and jumping through dozens of hoops before you can get to it, so they’d need to streamline that and make it easy to pay, and easy to watch/listen.”

I totally agree and agree with the majority of your points. Most industries are slow to change and the movie industry will be forced to change and make content available globally as the internet has erased borders, just as the music business was forced to. How to determine the price for access to content transitioning from a model determined by regional licensing. That is the issue, not either piracy is the sole issue/reason for profit loss or that piracy great and nothing should be done about it.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

How to determine the price for access to content transitioning from a model determined by regional licensing. That is the issue, not either piracy is the sole issue/reason for profit loss or that piracy great and nothing should be done about it.

Uh, that’s the problem, LAB. Licensing. Geographical limitations are one of the reasons people are driven to piracy to obtain what they want. Love it or loathe it, if they find out they can use a VPN to obtain it cheaper from an Indian supplier, that’s where they’ll go.

Set a reasonable global rate and if people want it, they will buy it. If it doesn’t sell well or gets pirated, drop the price till sales rise. It’s probably not worth going lower than $0.99. You can also provide links to download it for free on a site laden with adverts or with Flattr, PayPal or other donation options. Or you could do all of that.

As we keep saying, the best and most effective way of dealing with piracy is to meet market demands, not by criminalizing people who want your stuff.

LAB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I do not comment for you to take me seriously nor for your approval and personally could not care less. If you want to talk about Prenda, please find a forum to do so. I think the simplest solution for you would be, simply, buy some porn if you are upset or worried there may be legal repercussions from pirating it.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“What is the title of this article?”

The title in no way claims that piracy has had no effect on the movie business.

“So industries that lose money to piracy should do nothing about it and not try to combat it?”

Ugh, this question has been asked and answered so many times it’s becoming a running joke. If companies want to “combat” piracy, they should start by looking at how spectacularly unsuccessful their past efforts have been and try something different. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got.

filmmaker6 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This is so stupid. Most of the people working in the movie industry are just workers – low-paid actors, technicians, directors, etc. Only the top-paid people make any kind of good money. I bet you’d like to work and toil at your job for months and years and not get a paycheck. That’s what it’s like being an independent film director in a world where everyone wants their entertainment for free.

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