Hateful Eight Pirated Leak Harms Film All The Way To Box Office Records

from the grilled-leaks dept

Mike just recently did a post on the horrible effects of piracy on Hollywood box office results from last year, which can be summarized as “holy shit, look at all the money!” That post took a macro look at the year Hollywood had at the box office, in which revenue and individual ticket sales were both up, despite the fact that piracy exists. Still, the post warned of one potential rebuttal some might make: yeah, but Star Wars.

And it’s true that such a high level look at the numbers would need to account for the smash hits released and gobbled up by the public. Still, such examples seem to indicate that the public is willing to fork over dollars if demands are met, but there are micro-examples of this as well. Take, for instance, The Hateful Eight, Tarantino’s latest film. You may recall that the film suffered a leak prior to its release, making it widely available on the internet for anyone who wished to engage in a little piracy. It was downloaded hundreds of thousands of times, leading some to worry that its availability to would hamper its success at the box office. That’s when one writer, with impeccable intelligence and an un-matched sexual charisma, wrote:

Pay close attention to how Hateful Eight does at the box office, because it’s almost certain to be a smash hit, even as it competes with a certain film franchise from a long time ago and far, far away. And that really is the point. Even as media reports will breathlessly detail the pirating of the film, even as we’ll be told about street corners in China where copies of the film are offered, and even as the download numbers of the film will soar, the film will do well.

So, how did it all work out for The Hateful Eight? It was, as predicted, a hit. As in a record-breaking hit. Specifically, the 70mm version, something requiring special equipment that is unavailable to most pirates, helped propel the success.

The 70mm version of the film, which has been showing in the largest 70mm release in more than 20 years, had a strong opening-weekend debut, earning $4.6 million at 100 venues in 44 U.S. markets. After its first two weeks, its 70mm engagements have grossed $11.2 million for a $112,000 per theater average for the first 12 days.

The neo-Western expanded to a total of 2,474 engagements at the beginning of its second weekend on Jan. 1, and its combined 70mm and digital showings have grossed a domestic total of $33.8 million to date.

All of that for a film which was leaked early and available for pirating. So, why the success? Well, the obvious answer is the 70mm gimmick, which those pirating the film couldn’t enjoy. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story, because $34 million gross early in a film’s release, especially when competing with Star Wars, is quite a thing. The real reason for this is the combination of Tarantino building up a loyal fanbase that wants to support his work coupled with the theater experience that is still immensely important to many viewers. Going to the theater is an event that cannot be replicated in the home for many movie-goers, no matter how good home theater technology gets.

So, if this demonstrates that piracy doesn’t really translate into lost ticket sales in the theater, as I believe it does, then this all returns us to the question of why Hollywood wants to spend so much monetary and emotional capital fighting a fight that might not really matter?

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Hateful Eight Pirated Leak Harms Film All The Way To Box Office Records”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
50 Comments
Violynne (profile) says:

“holy shit, look at all the money!”

Uh… something’s amiss here. Let me grab out my pencil so I can fix it.

“holy shit, look at all the money, for which our accounting firms will make quick work to ensure not a single, fucking penny will be moved to the profits column.”

Better.

As for the rest of the article, meh. New year. Same rhetoric. Nothing changes. Moving on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Would you ever argue that a grocery store with record sales shouldn’t worry about shoplifting? I wouldn’t, because it’s a silly argument. The question is what the sales would have been without the shoplifting. Same thing here. Yes, it’s a successful film. But how successful would it have been without piracy? You don’t know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes, I would argue that. Most major retail chains agree, and their loss prevention departments now mostly focus on large-scale (or employee) theft, not individual shoplifting incidents.

What would the sales have been without the shoplifting?

What would the profits have been without wasting them trying to stop the person stealing $20?

Your hypothetical is meaningless. Go look at reality.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

…Most major retail chains agree, and their loss prevention departments now mostly focus on large-scale…theft, not individual shoplifting incidents…

You’d be surprised at how many chain stores have policies that prohibit filing police reports for shoplifting unless a certain dollar amount is involved. But this has an effect of skewing crime statistics: the crime rates reported for theft and burglary are lower than they actually are.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They shouldn’t. Because the “shoplifters” only took a copy of the product and the original is still there.

Yes, it’s a successful film. But how successful would it have been without piracy? You don’t know.

How would those grocery stores fared if they managed to eliminate such shoplifting but none of the customers had money to buy these products? Of course it doesn’t matter because you are comparing apples with mammoths.

Xuuths says:

Re: Shoplifting confusion

Um, wrong. A grocery store that gets shoplifted has lost physical property they have paid for and cannot sell. Video piracy does not cause any movie company to lose any physical property. See the difference? That’s why it’s “intellectual property” and not mere theft.

You can answer for yourself whether most people who watch pirated films would choose instead to pay for watching those same films.

Whoever says:

Re: Grocery store

Would you ever argue that a grocery store with record sales shouldn’t worry about shoplifting?

Stores don’t really publicise this, but theft by employees far outweighs theft by anyone else.

In any case, your point is invalid. When someone takes something off the shelf of a store, a replacement must be bought. When someone watches a pirate movie, there is no cost incurred by the producers of that movie.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Grocery store

“When someone watches a pirate movie, there is no cost incurred by the producers of that movie”

Especially in cases like this, where the requirement for 70mm meant that many people had no way to see it at the cinema if their local venues did not agree to install the equipment and/or opted to show a different movie instead (IIRC, Tarantino is pissed with Disney because a venue ditched a screening of his film for another Star Wars screening).

Over a decade into this argument, and these people haven’t worked out that the very basis of their argument is still false.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I worked in an auto parts store around 25 years ago, and as long as our “shrinkage” percentage was below a certain threshold, we were told not to question theft whatsoever.

It turns out that accusing innocent people (or doing things like that like searching everyone on their way out the door) has a negative effect on many honest consumers that costs MORE than the losses to theft.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Exactly so. If the *AA’s actions ‘against pirates’ were even close to being that visible to the average customer, I imagine a good number of people would refuse to buy from them.

When you’ve got a store having employees follow customers as they browse, and patting them down on the way out, that’s immediately visible to anyone that shops there, and shows without a doubt what the store think of their customers.

Stuff like DRM and geo-locking, suing companies to try and force third-party liability on them and making hosting user-created content legally risky, those kinds of things are much less visible, even if they affect more people, and because the more visible actions primarily affect other people, there’s always the ‘well it wouldn’t happen to me, I don’t do those sorts of things’ excuse.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

A friend of mine used to work security at a K-Mart. He told me there were two solid rules:

1) Never accuse anyone of theft unless you saw them take it and watched them continuously until they left the store.

2) “Processing” someone who stole something takes about an hour, so don’t even bother with people who stole merchandise that costs less than what he made in an hour.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“Would you ever argue that a grocery store with record sales shouldn’t worry about shoplifting? I wouldn’t, because it’s a silly argument.”

Well that’s exactly what a lot of stores do to a degree, so who’s the silly one?

“Yes, it’s a successful film. But how successful would it have been without piracy?”

Wrong question. The right question is, how much more or less money would we make if we stopped heavily investing in historically unsuccessful anti-piracy efforts, and put that money into productive (i.e, profitable) areas instead. Given widespread piracy still is, the return on investment seems pretty terrible. If you could make more money overall by taking a more realistic approach, i.e. targeting only large-scale commercial piracy instead of the general public whose custom you’re trying to win, why wouldn’t you?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Would you ever argue that a grocery store with record sales shouldn’t worry about shoplifting? I wouldn’t”

Neither would anyone else here. Which is fine, because that’s a stupid distortion of the argument above, even if you get around the usual idiotic analogy – shoplifting is very different from digital piracy, for a large number of reason, of which you have been informed hundreds of times. It’s an idiotic analogy, but even within the analogy you can’t get the opinions of the people you’re addressing correct.

Nobody’s saying that the studios shouldn’t be concerned about piracy. What they are saying is that it’s not the instant killer that people like you claim it is, and that there are many, many different ways to deal with it without suing customers, blocking customer from paying for or using content, or the other ridiculous things the studios have been trying.

As ever, try dealing with reality – your hallucinations aren’t going to agree with you, so why should the people really here?

“But how successful would it have been without piracy? You don’t know.”

Neither do you. It could have been more successful, the same, or even less. Why you you claim you know the answer?

Anonymous Coward says:

Death to DRM

What does kill sales is DRM. I would gladly buy more movies, if all the options didn’t suck. I inexplicably can’t get blu-ray to play on my PC without buying another program, so those are out. There’s so many restrictions on digital that it’s not worth the hassle. Amazon for instance, won’t let you stream HD movies if you don’t have equipment that supports its DRM. If you have for example a VGA cable to your monitor, you can only stream SD.

If I pirate, I can put the file on my network and stream to any device, copy it to my tablet and go, etc. I would gladly pay if it was just convenient.

Jason says:

Re: Death to DRM

I would gladly pay if it was just convenient.

That sums up my position exactly. I’ve spent crazy amounts of money on gog.com buying games. Realistically, far more games than I’ll probably ever have time to play. But they make it easy, and if there’s something interesting on sale (which also happens often) I’ll give it a try.

I’m almost afraid of how much more money I’d spend on movies and TV shows if I only had the chance. There’s so much potential… the manufacture-on-demand system for DVDs has brought a number of older shows and movies back to the market, just imagine being able to go buy whatever show or movie you wanted, any time, easily! For a one-time investment (and, one would hope, at least a meaningful attempt at doing it right, getting a clean master, etc.) a studio could have all of its titles available for sale basically forever, and at next to no ongoing cost. Everybody wins, right?

steell (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People that I know that download movies would not go to the theater and see the movies if they couldn’t download them. They would simply never see the movies. The people are either too poor to afford to go to the theaters, or disabled and physically unable to go. Others of my acquaintance do go to the theater to see movies they enjoyed after downloading them.

jufnitz (profile) says:

This is silly. Of course the studios have an interest in preventing people from downloading their movies instead of buying tickets; the question is simply, do we consider this interest legitimate? Forcing them to adopt a “freemium”-type business model, where movies themselves are freely available but customers are charged for “upgrades” like an IMAX-quality viewing experience, would be wonderful for people who don’t care about picture quality, but the companies themselves if given a choice would rather extract money from those people than not extract said money. Why is that so hard to understand?

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think what Tim is saying is that they need to stop worrying about it so much. Heavily pirated movies can still do very well at the box office.

The only thing I have seen affected is the ability of the moviemaker to trick the theater-going public is dwindling. Or to say it another way: BAD movies can’t make money if they are pirated early, because everyone will know they are bad.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, but it always comes to the same question: Would the film have done better without the piracy? Would 50% of those downloaders paid for it? 10%? 1%? Would the box office have been bigger without the piracy, bigger with?

The initial numbers are good, but not great. The 70MM thing is sort of special and like limited release specials, certainly got some attention. Wider release (where the majority of the public would see the movie) wasn’t really special. It was not far ahead of Alvin and the Chipmunks, which has at this point almost twice the domestic gross. The drop off (second and third week ticket sales) have been pretty week, quickly dropping to around $500 per screen, which is about the level that will see the movie dropped quickly from a lot of multiplexes or reduced to a single screen from multiple screens. So it’s pretty much a given that the movie will have run it’s course in only 3 or 4 weeks.

Without piracy, would people be going? We will never know, but it’s pretty mind boggling to say “it sold okay, so piracy ain’t that bad” without knowing what it could have done without it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Without piracy, would people be going? We will never know, but it’s pretty mind boggling to say “it sold okay, so piracy ain’t that bad” without knowing what it could have done without it.

If you’re going to bring up that question, then you also have to ask the opposite question: How many people did piracy cause to buy? How many people saw the pirated version and as a result decided to see it in theaters, or buy when it came out on disc, who would have otherwise not done so?

Did piracy cause some who otherwise have paid to not do so? Almost certainly.

Did piracy cause some who otherwise would not have paid to do so? Almost certainly.

If you’re going to throw out hypotheticals like that, then you have to apply it to both sides to be fair, and given we’re talking about hypotheticals, at that point you’re just guessing which might have been more.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Without piracy, would people be going? We will never know”

So, if you know this, why is every one of your posts assuming that piracy makes things worse? Why do you address only this point, and not the many others raised in these discussions?

“it’s pretty mind boggling to say “it sold okay, so piracy ain’t that bad” without knowing what it could have done without it.”

To your mind, perhaps, but then you’re obsessed with countering this site’s posts and unable to address the actual arguments being made as a result.

The point is, we’ve been hearing for over a decade about how piracy is going to destroy the movie industry and how it cannot survive if people are pirating. These fears have been used for everything from removing first sale rights to confiscating personal equipment to suing customer to blocking people from watching the products they bought.

These stories are to illustrate that this is not true. Could these figures have been even higher had piracy not occurred? Possibly. But the industry is certainly not collapsing, and that’s the point being made.

Once again, if you addressed the reality of what people were saying instead of attempting to smugly undermine a strawman, you’d get this.

Anonymous Coward says:

‘why Hollywood wants to spend so much monetary and emotional capital fighting a fight that might not really matter?’

more importantly, why do governments, politicians, judges, police forces and private companies continuously ramp up their detection modes and punishment terms? what is the real reason that these people do whatever they possibly can to keep an industry, that is already making a fortune each year, probably more than any other, continue to make even bigger fortunes? is it the money? is it the control? is it the buzz these ass holes get when they know they are instrumental in the bankrupting and possible jailing of someone who was only watching a friggin’ movie?

SirSoliloquy says:

Re: Re: This has got to be the most disingenuous article ever.

@PaulT

In its first three weeks it made only $41.5 million domestically ($60 million worldwide). Django unchained made $125.3 million in that time. Inglorious Basterds made $91.8 million. Kill bills Vol. 1 & 2 had $54 million and $52 million (and this is back in the early 2000s — thats’s the equivalent of about 70 million today).

The only Tarantino movies that made less (and I mean Less total, not even counting inflation or budget) are Resevoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, and Grindhouse.

Reservoir Dogs was a low-budget film that only opened into 61 theaters nationwide, and made double its money back. Jackie Brown only cost $12 million to make and had already made all that back by its opening weeken. Grindhouse definitely a flop — it only made back about 40% of its production budget.

Hateful Eight reportedly cost $44-50 million to produce, and reports say they spent an additional $35 million on promotion. Box office projections don’t see them making that back

By criteria definition would you say this isn’t a flop?

@That One Guy

I know you’re taking a dig at Hollywood accounting. But in 1983, Return of the Jedi made $70 million in its first three weeks.

Hateful eight is not doing well. Stop pretending otherwise in order to make piracy look like it doesn’t affect anything — it’s only going to backfire when the final box office receipts come back.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This has got to be the most disingenuous article ever.

“In its first three weeks it made only $41.5 million domestically ($60 million worldwide). Django unchained made $125.3 million in that time.”

sigh

You have to compare apples to apples. First of all, that’s false. Django made that much IN TOTAL. By this time in its release, it had only made $64 million.

The other factors to consider are the competition (Hateful opened against the biggest selling movie of all time) and release schedule that didn’t apply to Django (very limited 70mm release that takes up a large chunk of that release)

“By criteria definition would you say this isn’t a flop? “

By the criteria of the real world, where all factors are taken into account. Especially since this is a 3 hour Western. How many of those have done as well in recent years at the box office?

We’ll see how the final figures total up, but the figures you’re producing seem to be deliberately misleading in many ways.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 This has got to be the most disingenuous article ever.

@PaulT Django Unchained made 425 million total worldwide. Take a look:

BoxOfficeMojo has its worldwide total as $424 million and its domestic as $162 million

In its week-by-week rankings, which are also available at Boxoffice Mojo it had earned $125 million in its first three weeks.

If you’re going to be patronizing, at least be sure you’re not provably pulling stuff out of your ass.

“By the criteria of the real world, where all factors are taken into account. Especially since this is a 3 hour Western. How many of those have done as well in recent years at the box office?”

Well, Django unchained for one.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This has got to be the most disingenuous article ever.

In its first three weeks it made only $41.5 million domestically ($60 million worldwide). Django unchained made $125.3 million in that time.

Funny thing about using that movie as an example…

Django Unchained
Production budget: $100 million.
First three week earnings(domestic): $125.3 million.
First three weeks earnings(foreign): None
Earnings total by third week: $125.3 million
Profits as of third week: $25.3 million.

Hateful Eight
Production budget: $44 million.
First three weeks earnings(domestic): $44.5 million.
First three weeks earnings(foreign): $17.4 million
Earnings total by third week: $61.5 million
Profits as of third week: $17.5 million.

Take into account production costs, and Django Unchained didn’t make $125.3 million to Hateful Eight’s $60 million, it made $25.3 to Hateful Eight’s $17.5. Now, if you want to add in any promotional costs and say that HE hasn’t yet made any profits, then see if you can find the numbers for Django Unchained, because if HE’s was $35 million, I’m guessing DU’s was even higher, which means that it almost certainly hadn’t broken even by that point either, making both of them flops.

Comparing the two, HE has made $7.8 million less than DU, despite the fact that it’s competing for viewers with the most successful movie currently in theaters(almost anyway, The Revenant took #1 as of this comment), and despite a significantly smaller presence in theaters. If you’re going to claim that piracy is the reason it’s not doing amazing, have fun dismissing those two things.

I know you’re taking a dig at Hollywood accounting. But in 1983, Return of the Jedi made $70 million in its first three weeks.

Return of the Jedi being the third movie in a highly popular series, with a bunch of fans looking forward to the trilogy’s end? Yeah, can’t possibly imagine why the movie might have made such a killing so quickly…

(Also, fun fact while we’re on the topic of Star Wars: By it’s third week, the first film in the series had made a whopping $4.6 million in profits, clearly indicating that it was a total flop, and would never recoup it’s production and promotional costs.)

And yet, as of those two articles at least, which came out years after Return did, according to the super-accurate books kept by the studios the film still hadn’t so much as broken even. If profits are the indication of success you’re going to use, I’d say that means Return failed pretty badly.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...