Amazingly, Downloadability Of Michael Moore's Film Didn't Appear To Hurt Box Office

from the how-shocking dept

We thought it was fairly amusing last month when Advertising Age claimed that Michael Moore's film being available for download online was "every film maker's worst marketing nightmare." After all, there was absolutely no evidence that having a film available to download hurts box office sales since the experience of watching on a computer and watching in a theater is totally different (and not just concerning quality and screen size, but the fact that going out to the movies is a social event). Plus, Moore himself had said in the past that he liked having his movies available for download. After all, remember that the last Star Wars movie was available for download before it came out and it certainly didn't hurt sales. So, it came as no surprise to us to find out that Moore's movie actually did quite well at the box office -- coming in second on a per-theater revenue basis. However, if you want to see a copyright lawyer in denial, check out the quote that got from one when asked whether or not Moore's film being available for download could possibly have helped ticket sales at the box office:
"No, no, no, no," Prager seethed. "This is depressing. We're not seeing a rise in the peer-to-peer influence market. Anything positive they may bring is instantly canceled."
Apparently, the industry is now using the "if we just keep believing we're right, despite the evidence, maybe it will be true" method of dealing with the changing market.

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  1. icon
    Richard (profile), 3 Jul 2007 @ 7:46pm

    Come on now!

    I'm as much of a supporter of the "distribution as promotion" idea as anyone, but you know as well as I do that you're not being fair here.

    A lot of the problem, as you've mentioned before, is that it's very hard to estimate the influence of free/online distribution on a film/album/etc. - so to say that having the last Star Wars movie available online before it was released in cinemas "certainly didn't hurt sales" is a fallacy. You can say that it certainly didn't lead to the failure of the film at the box office, you can say that it didn't appear to hurt sales, but there is no way of knowing what the sales would have been without the online distribution, so there's no way of knowing the effect. I think it's fair to say that having a film/album be available online for free probably does lead to some lost sales, but it also probably leads to some gained sales, as people who enjoy it decide to pay for cinema quality, sleeve notes, honour, etc. In general, unfortunately, we do not know how large these two effects, positive and negative, are - and therefore we cannot say if the online distribution was an overall gain or loss to the sales of the 'product'.

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