Watch: The Latest Avengers Movie Is Already On Torrent Sites, But That Won't Stop A Torrent Of Sold Theater Tickets

from the enjoy-your-money dept

Way back in 2012, the Washington Post published an article entitled ‘Why Hollywood Is Doomed’. The thrust of the post is that the major movie studios were entirely too focused on restrictive copyright laws and draconian enforcement efforts when any simple look at Hollywood revenues would show that great movies make great amounts of money. That is the correlation that Hollywood should be focused on, not imaginary stances that every instance, or even a majority of instances, of piracy represents lost ticket revenue. The author’s example of this was the original The Avengers movie, which is nearly universally accepted as just a fantastic flick, but which was also heavily pirated. Despite the piracy, the box office take worldwide for the movie was $1.5 billion, on a budget of $220 million. It was such a triumph, in fact, that it solidified the MCU series of movies that have made so much money that throwing actual numbers around at this point is pointless.

Fast forward to today, when Avengers: Endgame is set to release in America this week, but where it was initially released in China. The strategy behind releasing to China first was explicitly to minimize the effects of piracy in that country. That strategy doesn’t appear to have worked all that well, as the film is already on torrent sites ahead of the US release, due to several cam-versions of the film being created in China.

In anticipation of this somewhat inevitable event, TorrentFreak sources put systems in place to check for the movie being shared on BitTorrent. Between 4:00pm and 5:00pm local time, those triggers went off, indicating the jewel in Marvel’s crown had already hit the Internet.

Within minutes of the initial seed appearing, dozens of exclusively China-located users began sharing a 1.2GB torrent of the movie. There are also other variants, around the 2GB mark. We are currently unable to confirm the quality of those releases.

Copies of these files quickly moved to English-language torrent sites, ahead of the US release. Subsequent uploads of the films alleviated the major concerns over the first files, which had poor quality due to the nature of camming a film in a theater, subtitles showing up that most folks won’t want, and a wonky angle from which it was filmed. The later files were of a much higher quality.

But here’s the thing: it won’t really matter. The only real question around Avengers: Endgame is just how insane an amount of money will it rake in? Will it finally unseat Avatar for the highest grossing film ever, or will it only be the fourth Avengers movie to settle into the top ten of all time? When these are the questions revolving around a film that is pirated before its release in major markets, it’s hard to see those questions as representing a real problem that requires legislation and strict enforcement, no matter how understandably frustrating this is to the movie makers.

Why piracy is no threat to this movie is also easily understood. First, the Avengers movies are generally just great movies. People want to see them. And they want to see them in the best way possible. Which brings up the second point: these pirated files are generally not a substitute for the theater experience for a movie like this. The bigger screen, the sound, the social aspect of going to see this film with your friends and family; these are not things that can be replicated with a computer and a home theater setup. And that’s the formula: a great movie and a theater experience. That formula is why nearly every movie in the top-ten grossing films of all time was released in the internet era. Piracy doesn’t keep the revenue from pouring in.

None of this excuses piracy, of course. That isn’t the point we’re making. It’s a matter of the focus and level of emphasis the studios, the MPAA, and their well-captured legislators are putting on the “problem.” The Washington Post had it right: focus on making great films and the problem is minimal.

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Comments on “Watch: The Latest Avengers Movie Is Already On Torrent Sites, But That Won't Stop A Torrent Of Sold Theater Tickets”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

No amount is enough for those that want it all

Despite the piracy, the box office take worldwide for the movie was $1.5 billion, on a budget of $220 million.

Yes, but you see if it weren’t for copyright infringement of the movie then it would have been $1.5 trillion, as everyone knows that every single download is a lost sale and if someone downloads a copy they would never decide to go out and see it in the theater and/or buy a copy later on.

The fact that infringement exists and yet films still rake in absurd amounts of money would be a good argument if you were talking about rational people not filled to the brim with greed, but when you’re talking about people who can look at a $1.5 billion and respond with ‘…is that it?’, it’s not likely to make a dent, especially when the dreaded Piracy makes such a useful boogieman for other purposes.

M.C. 'Mac' McMasters says:

Re: Any price is too high for those who have teh internets.

You can’t compete with free. That’s been proven over and over.

Netflix, for example, has borrowed another 2 billion just to stay operating. It’s about 12 billion in debt, and about that much again in commit to various projects. — In ANY prior era to current wild "QE" printing of "money", Netflix would have gone to bankruptcy already. — And when the producers get their streaming on line in next couple of years, Netflix’s content will dry up: it’s own isn’t popular.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Any price is too high for those who have teh internets.

Netflix expenditures has nothing to do with competing with free but everything to do with getting original content so they can compete with the other streaming services. Especially in light of the new streaming services that’s coming from Disney, Warner Media and Apple.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Any price is too high for those who have teh internets.

You can’t compete with free. That’s been proven over and over.

False. But thanks for playing the game of absolutes. TD and other sites competes with free – and gives their content away via CC. So therefore, you are wrong.

"Hard to compete." Maybe. "Can’t compete." A lie.

Only takes a single example to disprove an absolute statement like that.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You can’t compete with free. That’s been proven over and over.

I knew Endgame would be available in camrip form on pirate sites and such. I could have watched it for no cost. I paid my $8.50 to see it tonight anyway — and so did all the people in that nearly fully-packed theater.

When this movie shatters the $300 million opening weekend barrier, come back and tell me how Marvel could not “compete with free”. I will listen, then I will laugh. A perfectly fair reaction…as all reactions should be.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No need to wait for that, they’re so predictable anyone could give you the response to your ‘challenge’. They’ll either ignore it entirely(most likely), or try to claim that if it weren’t for those dastardly copyright infringers the movie would have made several hundred million more, based on nothing more than an empty assertion.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The irony for me is that I’m interested in seeing Endgame at the cinema, but I want to see Captain Marvel first as I missed its first run. Because of the genius way windowing is set up, I can’t currently see that legally. It’s not on VoD here, but it’s also not showing at any cinema nearby.

So, do I pirate Captain Marvel in order to see Endgame, or do I wait and lose Endgame my purchase of a ticket (I have a feeling I won’t bother if I don’t see it this weekend as it’ll have been spoiled for me by then, so I’ll wait for home release)?

It seems like Disney will "lose" money either way, but it’s their own fault for not having a timely home release for the former movie, and nothing to do with piracy, as the latter option will be my default…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Any price is too high for those who have teh internets.

"You can’t compete with free."

He says on an article about a movie destroying box office records being available for free… Hmmm..

"Netflix, for example, has borrowed another 2 billion just to stay operating."

Strange how you always obsess over raw figures and never look at how companies actually invest or how the Hollywood studios borrow money. Almost as if you’re obsessively lying…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Any price is too high for those who have teh internets.

"You can’t compete with free. That’s been proven over and over. "

Except if you’re selling bottled water or happen to be Paulo Coelho or Trent Reznor, you mean?

We have solid proof over the last twenty years that the media industry does just fine competing with free given that piracy has ensured "free" has remained available for absolutely everyone with an internet connection.

So that’s a fairly blatant falsehood you’re peddling right there.

"In ANY prior era to current wild "QE" printing of "money", Netflix would have gone to bankruptcy already."

So netflix’s capital model being identical to any hollywood producer means that netflix won’t be able to compete despite far lower running costs. Color me confused at that second blatantly obvious falsehood.

"Netflix’s content will dry up: it’s own isn’t popular."

Baghdad Bob, is that you?

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Online

Theaters are doing just fine; take a look at the latest Sky is Rising report.

I can understand why some people prefer home viewing; nothing wrong with that. But it’s simply not having the devastating impact on movie theaters that some people are claiming. Truth is, most people who like watching movies watch movies at home sometimes and go to the theater sometimes.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Online

"Many movies are just not worth it"

This why movies like Avengers: Endgame are doing very well, but mid-budget non-blockbuster movies are going straight to streaming. Lots of people either cannot afford to keep taking risks like they used to in cinemas, or have decided the atmosphere is not worth the effort.

But, that’s on studios not supporting the mid-range product and theatres not keeping their houses clean, not on Netflix for picking up the slack.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Online

Theaters only have so much control over ticket prices; most of them sell tickets at very low profit margins. And then they jack up concession prices to make up the difference.

It’s definitely true that some theaters have better prices than others. I generally prefer going to Harkins over going to AMC; AMC has better seats but charges significantly more for snacks and sugar water, and has cut costs by decreasing counter staff and having you order through an awful, awful kiosk. (Presumably all these measures are part of how they could afford to install better seats.)

Alamo Drafthouse is my favorite (though I know most people don’t live near one). Their ticket prices are competitive, and their food costs about what you’d pay for the same thing at a decent brewpub. When I go to Alamo, I wind up spending about what I would if I got dinner somewhere else and then going to the movie.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Re: Online

Someone has to produce the content. So movie production companies will be around. Whether they stay like they are, probably not. One of the major threats to the studios as they are now is the fact that it is relatively easy to produce quality videos with small group and relatively minimal money. This will means that some very low budget videos will be quite high quality and many become incredibly popular. Plus, the relatively low costs means the total gross does not have to be very high to turn a real profit. Also, streaming services will hurt both cable and theaters as many will not tolerate the stupidities the cable companies or the theaters owners.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Online

Well.. yes and no. While they’re certainly beholden to studio demands, with Disney apparently being a prime bone of contention, there are certain things they bring on themselves. Everything from failing to ensure a lack of disruption in their screenings to vehemently opposing day and date theatrical releases are directly on their heads.

M.C. 'Mac' McMasters says:

Similarly, we could tax Google for half its income.

It’d survive.

Big corps and popular movies can survive big losses because past the magical self-sustain threshold.

But protecting the very popular is not the basis of copyright. It applies to every work.

Fact is that even the garage bands (which Techdirt used to example instead of Hollywood’s biggest) cannot sustain production without some income.

Piracy most affects the small creators just trying to get a start, often literally just to put food on the table: they want only enough to sustain and a bit for bigger productions.

Techdirt has now shifted from at least some trying to find new financing / encourage new creators to just claiming that piracy doesn’t harm creators because… Hollywood blockbusters still turn a profit. — How low you’ve sunk, kids.

Here’s what happens to directors who buy into the notion that giving away to pirates works at all (note that Techdirt never followed up on this after trumpeting the attempt):

In a new piece published by pro-industry, anti-piracy alliance Creative Future, Schenkman rips into pirates big and small. While noting that the sci-fi sequel has been downloaded almost a million times with uncounted streaming views on top, just 7,000 people supported it with donations.

Rocky says:

Re: Similarly, we could tax Google for half its income.

How about you link to the followup article with a real interview of Schenkman?

Let me help you:

It’s seems Creative Future did some "creative juggling" in their article of what Schenkman actually said so it fit their narrative. Can’t really say I’m surprised they did it…

So you where saying?

Thad (profile) says:

I caught a prerelease screening of the first Avengers movie. They told us (after we were already in line) that we weren’t allowed to bring phones in, and made a big security-theater show of wanding us before we were allowed in.

I don’t really need to tell you that the movie got leaked before release anyway, right?

But hey, at least we could be sure there wouldn’t be any damn phones ringing during the movie.

MindParadox (profile) says:

Honestly, the thing that to me, will kill theaters is the amount of people talking and texting during movies.
It’s gotten so bad in atlanta that I will generally wait for a week or so after a movie releases to then go in the middle of the day on like, wednesday, just so i can get a theater alone to watch the movie in, assuming I just don’t wait for it to be available to rent on my xbox.

I have massively slowed down on pirating movies(and games for the same reason), possibly due to being a bit older now, but more likely that my tastes have changed and now, I see movies as either "I want to see it" or "I’m not interested" whereas before, I remember watching movies just to watch them, because it "might be" interesting.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s actually been a long time since I’ve had a bad experience at the movies. Though that could be because I don’t generally see big movies on opening weekend either. (I see movies at Alamo Drafthouse whenever I can, too, and they’ve got a strict policy against talking or texting, but I’ve also found that even when I go to chains like Harkins, AMC, and Cinemark, people are a lot more well-behaved than they used to be 10-20 years ago as cell phones were becoming common.)

YMMV, of course; I’m not saying everybody else has the same moviegoing experiences I do, and I can understand why people who generally have a bad experience at the theater would just stop going.

But like I mentioned earlier, the numbers say that theaters are doing just fine. Home viewing — whether on legal streaming platforms or from illicit sources — is not hurting the theater industry. It’s true that some people don’t go to the theater anymore, and that’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with that. But people who watch movies at home and at the theater are more common than people who only watch them at home.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'If I'm not making EVERYTHING, then I haven't made anything.'

I’d call it cognitive dissonance, but I’m pretty sure it’s ‘just’ gross dishonesty, where what state the industry is in depends entirely on who they’re talking to at the time, with a heaping helping of greed and self-entitlement mixed in that makes them focus on what they think they should be making, rather than what they are making.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Only in fantasy land can two mutually exclusive opinions be claimed to be true at the same time."

Copyright math. Use enough circular logic and reversed cause-effect argumentation…

Of course, on paper their claims are true. Hollywood accounting, using shell companies to eradicate every profit, means that any profit from a movie, no matter how big, will still end up a loss leading to a favorable tax break. And ensures today every actor goes for a fixed-sum remuneration since "royalties" have become a shell game.

DocGerbil100 says:

Movie review and general experience

I saw the cam copy on a streaming site, one that I use for the TV shows I can’t legally view on any of the platforms I pay for. I watched a little of the cam version, decided the quality was too poor and resolved to go see it properly, at the local cinema. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have bothered, if not for the cam copy being there and giving me that little extra push to want to watch it. So much for substitution theories.

3D performances were very limited, so I could only go to the late-night showing. I like 3D, but for what was supposed to be the killer app for cinema, 3D really does seem to have tanked in a big way, which is a shame.

The cost of the food was even more horrific than last time and an instant strong deterrent from wanting to go to the cinema again. I’ll probably go see the next Star Wars film, but I’ll definitely think twice about anything else. Paying £6 for a small bottle of drink and a tiny bag of chocolates is not fun, especially when the only drinks on offer were all horrible diet drinks, Doctor Pepper or plain water.

I enjoyed the movie, even if it’s a bit slow to start. Visually, it’s great. Very much improved over the original movie, which – for me – was frankly too much of a 3D mess to be really enjoyable. It’s good to see film-makers have finally got to the point where it feels like a natural part of the experience.

Performances were good all round, very engaging. I would have liked to have seen more of some characters – Doctor Strange, for example – but the movie already stuffs in as many characters as it possibly can, so I can see why some of them have to be sidelined.

Without wanting to push any particularly strong social agenda, the movie’s treatment of women and non-white characters seems a bit strange at times, something which holds true for most of Marvel’s work.

Some roles, such as Pepper Potts and Nebula feel properly written and a valued part of the film. Others seem to have been tacked on at the last minute, with minimal effort and to minimal effect. Captain Marvel’s involvement, especially, feels like pure politics, being plainly over-powered, uncomfortably forced and entirely unearned.

The film’s black characters seem like they could be excised in their entirety, without it making any real difference at all. Black Panther had a good solo outing and a good place in the previous movie. Here, he’s a pointless CGI cameo. Why go to such trouble to have these characters if you’re not going to use them?

Criticism aside, it’s a good film, broadly recommended. As for the cinema? I’d hesitate before recommending it as a viewing experience. It feels good-enough, rather than good. Cheap and not in a good way. Also insanely grasping and expensive. I’m surprised the lavatories in there aren’t charging users by the drop.

You’d think an industry that spends so much money on the movies themselves would have the sense not to sabotage the final result so badly, but that’s Hollywood for you, I suppose.

For all that I enjoyed myself, the costs and inconveniences easily outweighed all the plus-points here. I think that for the next Marvel movie, I shall wait for the home release. If nothing else, it will certainly be cheaper. 🙂

bob says:

Re: Movie review and general experience

I’ll probably go see the next Star Wars film, but I’ll definitely think twice about anything else.

After episode 1 and all the over-hype I no longer watch Star Wars films in theaters. The movies just became worse and worse. Then when Rogue One came out I saw it at home and decided hey this franchise has a chance again.

Then after seeing episode 7 I decided, no, never again will i pay outrageous prices for a franchise that is riding on the coat tails of episodes 4, 5, and 6.

I will gladly wait to rent the newer Star Wars films and watch at home on a simple computer monitor because that is all they deserve at this point.

bob says:

Re: Re: Re: Movie review and general experience

Opps, my bad. I mixed up the dates they came out. I did see 7 in theaters and didn’t like it, like I stated before. Which is why I wated to see rogue one at home. Didnt watch solo in theaters, and waited for 8 to watch at home as well.

Still felt like the franchise had a chance after rogue one. But all evidence to the contrary with later films.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It certainly set many records, but I’m not sure what the Avatar reference is?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens had already beaten it in domestic numbers and it did not hold any current records for opening weekend. As for international numbers, Avengers: Endgame has made approx. $1.2 billion worldwide this weekend, while Avatar’s total box office was nearly $2.8 billion.

I have no doubt that it will break the record at this point, and maybe even beat the number adjusted for inflation that’s set by Gone With The Wind if it has the legs the crowd reaction suggests it will. But, as far as I know there’s nothing specific to Avatar that was broken this weekend.

John85851 (profile) says:

You can't compete with free

Changing the subject:
If companies can’t compete with free, then why is iTunes still making millions (or billions) from music sales? It’s very easy to download a mp3 file from a pirate site.

But like this site has said over and over, customers will pay for an experience if it’s easy, convenient, and good quality. In this case, it’s a lot easier to click on the iTunes app and buy a song than it is to search for the song on a pirate site, download a file-sharing app, download the song, hope it doesn’t have a virus, and then copy it to the phone.

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