Copyright Troll And Famed Movie Producer Nicolas Chartier Debunks Entire Hollywood Talking Point About Protecting The 'Little Guy'

from the it's-about-lining-his-own-pocket dept

Nicolas Chartier is the CEO of Voltage Pictures, a very high-profile movie studio, thanks mainly to producing some critically acclaimed films like Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club. For the past five years, Chartier has also been known as an over-the-top, somewhat ridiculous copyright troll, thinking that it's smart to sue thousands of fans of his films. When this began, someone sent him a very polite email, explaining why he thought suing fans was a bad idea that might backfire, and Chartier responded by calling him a moron and a thief. Chartier doesn't seem particularly thoughtful, but is very, very emotional about this stuff.

The Hollywood Reporter has a big interview with Chartier where he continues to make ridiculous statements, often without any foundation, and also undermines Hollywood's carefully crafted narrative about how its fight against piracy is really about protecting the jobs of the little guys, the union workers who work on films. Creative Future, the astroturf group set up by Hollywood to push for stronger copyright laws and to attack innovative services that threaten its obsolete business model, likes to trot out the "little guys" who work on movies, and highlights that it's a partnership between the studios and the unions. Yet, in the interview Chartier repeats his attacks on union works in Hollywood and points out that he films outside of the country to avoid paying them:
Bruce Willis makes a million a day, but we make the movie because of Bruce Willis. But at the same time, when I see a union driver sitting for 12 hours and being really difficult, that's why we end up shooting a lot of movies in foreign countries. People don't understand that without movie stars making big money, there's no movie. It's nice to victimize the big stars, but we need that because otherwise we don't make the movie. I don't make the movie because of the driver.
Yup, this is all about the rich getting richer, and Chartier apparently has no problem admitting that he'd screw over the everyday workers on films when he can. The fight over these things has never been about the everyday worker. They get paid their standard rate no matter what the film does. The issue is over the fat cats at the top. Also, that line about the movie only getting made because of the stars? Yeah, that's not exactly true either. As we've discussed in the past, there's no evidence that having a big name movie star helps a film do any better. It's just because Hollywood is so sucked into this vortex of believing that a "name" makes a movie that it focuses on that. That isn't to say that good acting isn't important. Great actors can make a real difference, but the idea that a big name is necessary to make a big film simply isn't supported by the evidence.

But Chartier isn't big on evidence or facts. He just makes up whatever he wants -- like his claim that the day after they announced plans to sue Hurt Locker downloaders, people suddenly stopped downloading the movie:
And the day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits, the Internet downloads of Hurt Locker went down about 40 percent. So, you know, you frighten people and then they stop.
Yeah, that didn't happen. And, really, in this day and age, if you're still going to claim that every download is a lost sale, it suggests you haven't put much (if any) thought into what's going on:
Hurt Locker ended up winning six Oscars, but at the same time we had 8 million illegal downloads on the movie. And I was like, "Wow, you know, we barely reimbursed the movie and we had 8 million illegal downloads." Well, if everybody had given me one dollar, that would be 8 million dollars, and the movie cost 11, so we lost 80 percent of the movie to piracy. That cannot hold
Or, you know, there are people like me who didn't see the movie, but wanted to. And then you sued all those downloaders and it got crossed off the list of movies I would rent. Ditto for any other Voltage picture. To this day, I've never seen a single one of them, and I know I'm not the only person to do so. Those are true "lost sales" because I absolutely intended to pay to see the movie. But now I won't. Unlike most of the people who downloaded who never would have paid. It's like Chartier doesn't even understand what battle he's really fighting.

He should be looking for ways to get more people to see movies. Instead, he's fighting ghosts: people who would never pay. It's not too different from his fight against the everyday people who work on his movies. He's pushing to keep down how much they pay while happily paying stars many millions. While he may have a knack for picking good movies, he doesn't seem to have much business sense, always fighting the wrong fight.

Filed Under: copyright, copyright troll, dallas buyers club, hurt locker, movies, nicolas chartier, piracy, unions
Companies: voltage pictures


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:31am

    And if everyone had given him A BILLION DOLLARS omg that movie would have made such a profit.

    But they didn't.

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  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:41am

    I like hearing the Copyright Trolls and their friendS at the MPAA & RIAA repeating the same old mantra of how copyright infringement is killing their business and plundering their profits.

    They just want to go back to the old day's where they controlled distribution and how you got the media they produced. They do not want to have to give anyone a cut of the profits.

    Before you had no choice but to get your media from sources where Hollywood controlled the distribution and they plain out f-ing hate that.

    Hollywood has poured a ton of money into the White House to get the rules shifted back their way to try and get the profits flowing back their way.

    When cassette tapes came out they said that copying would be the death of them, they said the same with VHS and Beta, and governments went and put takes on to that media to compensate them, and this has occurred every time technology has advanced and every time we have heard Hollywood say "woe is me".

    Copyright troll lawsuits are not about protection of their copyrighted work and brand, it isn't about protecting their works, it is about revenue generation and always has been.

    It has been about money and always will be about money, it's not about copyright enforcement, it is about revenue, and they see it as another avenue for revenue.

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    • icon
      Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 4:01am

      Re:

      MPAA & RIAA repeating the same old mantra of how copyright infringement is killing their business and plundering their profits
      And yet, in the midst of a recession, studios post record profits. Yeah, that's really happening.

      "If only these nasty pirates would stop, we'd make a gazillion quadrobigillion dollars and solve all the world's ills! Pirates are ruining the planet!"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:45am

    One Dollar

    Well, if everybody had given me one dollar, that would be 8 million dollars, and the movie cost 11, so we lost 80 percent of the movie to piracy.

    Well maybe if you had charged only one dollar for the movie then a lot of those people wouldn't have downloaded it and instead bought it because hey its only a dollar.

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    • icon
      Geno0wl (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:52am

      Re: One Dollar

      Honestly that isn't unreasonable compared to what others have said in the past.
      Not like the crazy people who said "8 million download means I lost $100,000,000 dollars from $12.50 per ticket!"
      at least give him SOME credit for expectations.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:47am

        Re: Re: One Dollar

        Actually that number doesn't seem that far fetched. But there is an if and that is the packaging, in which case the 1 dollar for his studio after other costs could become "12.5 dollars per ticket".

        So I wouldn't say his number is necessarily that much better.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: One Dollar

          I wonder if any studio is willing to set up a paypal donation page for its movies, and suggest the sceners place a link to that in their movie downloads.

          Something tells me that doing this would have netted that movie more than 8 million dollars via donations. I might be wrong, but $1 seems like a good price point to test this on. Let the people watch, then donate. Then talk to their friends and finally all go out as a group to watch it in the theater. And then the next time a Voltage flick comes out, make it a Theater party first, with the downloads for re-watching (and yet more donation revenue).

          This would also enable them to make money off the long tail, which they can't do by not showing the movie at all, and restricting sales/rentals to a fixed price higher than the long tail is willing to pay.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:54am

      Re: One Dollar

      I was just coming here to say that myself.

      If it had cost $1, I might have actually watched it rather than spending $0 and not watching it.

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      • identicon
        JEDIDIAH, 16 Jan 2015 @ 12:23pm

        Re: One Dollar

        I just got done watching those films and I didn't pay a dime. I also didn't pirate it. I just "rented" it on Netflix.

        I would have continued ignoring that particular film except something recently occurred to make it personally relevant. Otherwise I would still be doing my little mini-boycott.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:00pm

          Re: Re: One Dollar

          I didn't pay either thanks to the public library.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:47pm

          Re: Re: One Dollar

          "I just got done watching those films and I didn't pay a dime. I also didn't pirate it. I just "rented" it on Netflix"

          So you did pay something to watch them. You don't get Netflix for free, and Netflix pays the studios to show those movies.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 1:26am

      Re: One Dollar

      There's also the other costs he's failing to consider - such as money he's lost as a result of his actions.

      For example, I saw The Hurt Locker for nothing - but absolutely legally (borrowed a friend's DVD). I quite liked it, and would have happily bought a copy myself to go through the special features (although it was a little bare IIRC) and have in it my (ridiculously large) library. I'd also follow his later productions, many of which seem like good films.

      Had he not committed these actions, I would have been quite happy to pay more than $1 for it, and more money for other projects in the future. But, he's a moronic asshole, so I deliberately ensure that none of money makes it his way, as a result of his actions. Whether cinema viewings or even clicking on his movies while browsing Netflix, I refuse to get him paid. From me personally, he could have has the equivalent of what he wants from 50 or 100 pirates.

      So, his competitors get paid, he won't. Purely due to what he's doing. But, yeah, blame the pirates, the honesty of personal responsibility is too complex for some people. My only disappointments are that I didn't spot this idiot's name on Killer Joe before I picked up my copy and that directors I appreciate make the mistake of working for him.

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    • icon
      Tim Griffiths (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 2:37am

      Re: One Dollar

      The response to that statement should have been "would you have let them?" because the answer would no doubt be something along the lines of "Of course not it's worth more than a dollar, I'm not just going to give it away!" rendering the whole point moot.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 3:42am

        Re: Re: One Dollar

        Exactly. It's all very well and good saying that if he had one dollar for each pirated copy he'd be set and woe is him because nobody did. Well, of course they didn't, there was no "donate a dollar" facility available. Ask him to actually allow that choice on his next production, it will be a different story.

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  • icon
    Jay (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:55am

    Fighting for...?

    "It's like Chartier doesn't even understand what battle he's really fighting. "

    He wants to shut down the library because those thieving kids borrowed one of his books from it before buying it from Barnes and Noble.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 1:33am

      Re: Fighting for...?

      Worse. They didn't like his book so they bought something else next time they were in the store.

      That might be the real issue in a way. The Hurt Locker is a very divisive movie, and while it's undeniably well made, a lot of people really don't like it. The lack of momentum following the Oscar win might simply be that the positive buzz from that was diluted by the people saying it was not a good film.

      I disagree with that assessment, and it's sad that negative buzz can kill a film like that but not affect sewage like the Transformers series, but that's sadly reality. Attacking potential customers (or actual ones, since some people do buy after viewing a pirated copy) is not the way to get more viewers.

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  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:01am

    Here's why he's an idiot:

    Hurt Locker didn't make money, but it got a best picture nomination. That nomination gave them him the clout to make Zero Dark Thirty, which made more than it's budget AND the Hurt Locker budget combined.

    Zero Dark Thirty won best picture, which gave him the clout to turn Dallas Buyers Club - a small $5 million movie - into another profitable Oscar contender that made over 10 times its budget.

    Whatever was lost on Hurt Locker has been made back in spades. To scream he's not making money because of piracy is ridiculous.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 1:38am

      Re:

      Indeed. IMDB shows 26 producer credits, only one of them before The Hurt Locker. You'd have to be living in a fantasy world not to understand that winning an Oscar helped the careers of the people responsible for that film, and was directly or indirectly responsible for helping those other projects get made..

      Unless he's such a poor producer that every single one of them lost money, then that film made him money in some way. He's just another idiot who's so obsessed with "piracy" that the realities of his industry passes him by.

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  • identicon
    Whoever, 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:18am

    Paying $Ms to the stars

    I have long suspected that the huge payments to the stars is merely a method to reduce the overall cost of hiring the actors.

    Because there is the (largely imaginary) hope that an actor can "make it" and receive those huge payments, lots of actors work for pittances. If the draw of the huge salary wasn't there, those hopefuls would want higher salaries to work in movies. On balance that could increase the overall costs to hire the actors.

    Think of it like a lottery: how much would lotteries make without the lure of the winner becoming an overnight multi-millionaire?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 12:13pm

      Re: Paying $Ms to the stars

      I have long suspected that the huge payments to the stars is merely a method to reduce the overall cost of hiring the actors.

      I suspect it has more to do with Hollywood accounting, as there will be no payments other than what they are paid upfront. As they know there will be no Jam tomorrow, they demand what they think their share of the profits should be today.

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      • identicon
        Whoever, 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:52pm

        Re: Re: Paying $Ms to the stars

        I suspect it has more to do with Hollywood accounting, as there will be no payments other than what they are paid upfront.


        No, those big stars also get a percentage of the gross. There is plenty of money in a percentage of the gross. It's only the mugs who get a percentage of zero (the net).

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: Paying $Ms to the stars

          That's right. There are a bunch of ways that these percentages are be computed. People with a lot of leverage can get them off the front end(a percentage of gross). Everyone else gets them off the back end (a percentage of net). With Hollywood accounting, the ones off the back are almost always worth exactly nothing and are sometimes called "monkey points" as a result.

          This division isn't unique to the movie industry, although Hollywood accounting is not common practice across the whole of the business world, where usually points off the back end are worth something unless the project really, truly doesn't make money.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:22am

    Escalations?

    Or, you know, there are people like me who didn't see the movie, but wanted to. And then you sued all those downloaders and it got crossed off the list of movies I would rent. Ditto for any other Voltage picture. To this day, I've never seen a single one of them, and I know I'm not the only person to do so. Those are true "lost sales" because I absolutely intended to pay to see the movie. But now I won't.


    Don't give them any more ideas, or they may escalate their idiocy, and with corporate sovereignty making it's way through various channels...

    I made this movie or album, but there are millions of people who decided not to see/listen to it and deprived me of hundreds of millions (or billions) of my rightfully earned money. Next thing you know there is a national you are a pirate tax for each and every Hollywood movie and music album made each year.

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    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 12:13pm

      Re: Escalations?

      They could always apply to the National Endowment for the Arts for funding.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 3:40pm

      Re: Escalations?

      I would like to say that you are not the only one that has not seen these pictures. I could have downloaded them. I never figured it was worth the bandwidth to do so. The additional fact that Voltage made them, sealed the deal of not being interested at all.

      Not because they are trolling but because I don't want to support them in any manner to encourage their business model. Lots of times the Oscar winner is not the one I am interested in; nor the contender for it. But having the name Voltage associated with the picture is guaranteed a no sale/no watch without feeling I missed a thing.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:47am

    even worse are people like me who not only didn't watch it and didn't buy it, i didn't pirate it either! when the reviews of a film are such that there are more people NOT pirating it And NOT paying,in one way or another, to watch it, that means big trouble!! i have to wonder, under these circumstances and as with some other movies too, were they so bad and the only way to get any revenue back was to sue people?

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:56am

    Well, if everybody had given me one dollar, that would be 8 million dollars, and the movie cost 11, so we lost 80 percent of the movie to piracy.
    Last time I heard, no movie in Hollywood is profitable. So even if these people gave $2, leaving $5 million left over, it still wouldn't have been profitable.

    When will these idiots ever learn: by lying to us, it only makes things worse.

    Oh, and one more thing: Hollywood should be careful about screwing over those countries it's taking advantage of. They're wising up to the bullshit that's "Hollywood accounting".

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  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:04pm

    me too...

    1. like the author and a couple posters, i also have a mini-boycott on them since they were such asshats...
    have not relented so far, but saw one of them on the amazon prime crap, so maybe watch eventually...

    2. further, i boycotted from the political reporting on these movies which PURPORT to show REAL events in a more-or-less 'realistic', 'true' fashion, but then end up carrying water for Empire through lies, distortion, and passing on gummint propaganda unchallenged...

    3. also GIVEN the EXTREME cooperation between the admin/cia & military and the movie makers, and GIVEN both the overt and covert his story of cia/etc using media whores for their propaganda efforts, I HAVE NO FAITH THE WRITERS/DIRECTORS/ETC ARE NOT COMPLICIT WITH THEM IN ALL WAYS, INCLUDING BEING COPYRIGHT MAXIMALISTS..

    4. have NEVER been one to say 'oh, X has a new movie out (*whatever* it is about), sure do want to see it...' NEVER...
    in fact, for MY tastes, established, famous, recognizable actors and celebutards NEGATIVELY influence my movie watching... i would prefer that all the actors be 'unknowns' (yes, i realize the impracticality, especially over time), because then i don't have any baggage, expectations, etc...

    for example, liked robin williams as a comic, but was often MORE impressed by his acting; HOWEVER, i ALWAYS had 'problems' with him in movies, because i CAN NOT SHAKE, 'oh, that's robin williams, when is he going to start bouncing off walls in some coke-fueled riff...'

    there are PLENTY of examples like that (FOR ME): oprah might be a good actress, i don't know; i can't get past her being 'oprah'... maybe this is just a stupid quirk that only an idiot like me has any thoughts along these lines, but i don't think so...

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  • icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:31pm

    As I keep saying, you can take a chartier out of janitors, but you can't take janitor out of Nicolas Chartier.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:40pm

    Picking on unions when the issue exists everywhere

    ...when I see a union driver sitting for 12 hours and being really difficult, that's why we end up shooting a lot of movies in foreign countries...

    If I have to give up 12 hours of my day for somebody else's profit I expect to be paid, union or not union. And I'd probably become difficult after 12 hours. If Hollywood is really concerned about costs they would address scheduling and work times.

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  • identicon
    Zonker, 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:41pm

    Bruce Willis makes a million a day, but we make the movie because of Bruce Willis.
    ...
    People don't understand that without movie stars making big money, there's no movie. It's nice to victimize the big stars, but we need that because otherwise we don't make the movie.
    Bullshit. You don't need big stars to make a movie. Every waiter in LA is an actor; hire one of them for a reasonable salary. Or just hire a WWE wrestler, they already have on the job acting experience. How do you think Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson got their start?

    (OK, Bruce Willis was a waiter in New York, but still the same point.)

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    • identicon
      Zonker, 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:52pm

      Re:

      Plus, good luck making that movie without those drivers you don't appreciate. There is a reason you hired them and that was to fill a job needed to complete the film.

      Are you going to let all your drivers go and make Bruce Willis do all the driving for you? Didn't think so.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Re:

        Are you going to let all your drivers go and make Bruce Willis do all the driving for you?


        You have to admit, it'd be a lot more entertaining and great advertising... but probably wouldn't help the movie get made.

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  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:43pm

    "And the day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits"

    Have people no shame?

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  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 1:45pm

    He's right about one thing

    People don't understand that without movie stars making big money, there's no movie.


    He's right, I don't understand that. I also know that it's not true, since tons of movies are made without big stars in them -- many of them not only excellent, but commercially successful.

    In fact, I personally prefer that movies don't have big stars. I usually dislike it when I recognize the actors in movies, because it makes the willing suspension of disbelief that much harder. Admittedly, that doesn't matter for the blockbuster action movies, since they are almost always so lacking in terms of writing that it makes no difference who the actors are.

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    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:03pm

      Re: He's right about one thing

      I'm pretty sure he means that without the star, he can't get the money to make the movie. Even a $5 million movie needs a recognizable actor to get that $5 million. Otherwise you're producing something for less than a million which may or may not even get distributed.

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      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re: He's right about one thing

        Even if that's what he means, he's wrong. Hundreds of films are made every year with budgets north of $5 mil that have no stars.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

          perhaps we have different definitions of stars.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

            I define them as "widely known and recognized actors".

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            • icon
              jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 5:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

              Please name some $5 million plus movies that have no stars.

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 1:55am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                Cloverfield ($25 million budget, no recognisable stars, $80 million domestic gross) and District 9 ($30 million, $115 million domestic gross) are the first ones to spring to my mind, but there's plenty of others.

                There's also the definition of "star" in terms of selling a movie. I mean, sure, most actors in Lord Of The Rings were recognisable on its first release, but most people went to see an adaptation of the books, not because they wanted to see an Elijah Wood movie. They didn't need his presence to get the movies made.

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                • icon
                  jupiterkansas (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 12:15pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                  Those movies had the clout of JJ Abrams and Peter Jackson behind them - directors and producers can be stars too.

                  But yes, special effect monster alien movies and horror films and famous books can sometimes get made without stars. However, 95% of the successful movies out there have name actors. Whether that connected to the success of the film or not is debatable, but Hollywood funding and distribution greatly depends on getting recognized actors.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 18 Jan 2015 @ 2:33am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                    "Those movies had the clout of JJ Abrams and Peter Jackson behind them - directors and producers can be stars too. "

                    Ah, so, you're right if we just redefine the meaning of "star" from the one defined earlier ("widely known and recognized actors")? Brilliant. Glad to know you're never wrong. I have many more examples, but look at this:

                    "But yes, special effect monster alien movies and horror films and famous books can sometimes get made without stars."

                    Great, a caveat so that every successful horror and sci-fi franchise is exempt from your "rule", handy given that there's so many of them. You seem to be redefining your point to make sure you don't have to admit that your point is not completely true. There's still plenty of examples, but I'm sure you'll find another definition to reject those as well.

                    "However, 95% of the successful movies out there have name actors."

                    As do a great deal of the unsuccessful ones.

                    "Hollywood funding and distribution greatly depends on getting recognized actors."

                    Possibly. But, Hollywood funding is not the only way to get movies made, even successful ones.

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                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 18 Jan 2015 @ 2:46am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                    Actually, perhaps I'm being a little harsh above, but my point stands. It's true that the way Hollywood operates is rather star-obsessed in terms of lead actors, but this is often proven wrong as much as it's proven correct. Unless you have to stretch the meaning of star to include directors, writers, even source material and studios, and thus render the term meaningless, there's plenty of ways to get films funded and distributed that don't depend on the star system. I think that the fact that you deliberately rejected genre material from the discussion means that you know this.

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                    • icon
                      jupiterkansas (profile), 18 Jan 2015 @ 4:16pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                      You're right about the caveats, but I was searching for a definition of a star. It seemed like a lot of people in this discussion were thinkikng "I will see a movie just because that person is in it" which limits you to a handful of big actors.

                      To me a star is simply someone that gives a film legitmacy. Maybe Lord of the Rings didn't need stars. Jackson could have gone to an LA restaurant and grabbed a bunch of waiter/actors, but he hired people we knew because their presence (and talent) legitimized the movie - Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Sean Bean, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, and Ian Holm - in the same way Alec Guiness and Peter Cushing legitimized Star Wars (and George Lucas was a bit of a name himself.) Just like Peter Jackson legitimized District 9, and JJ Abrams legitimized Cloverfield.

                      There are exceptions - once a year maybe a movie will be successful with no stars, like Napoleon Dynamite, but it's such a rare and unpredictable occurance that nobody could build a business model on that.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        PaulT (profile), 19 Jan 2015 @ 3:56am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                        "To me a star is simply someone that gives a film legitmacy."

                        That's one hell of a wide definition, and I don't think it's anything like what's usually discussed when the term is invoked. The usual definition of the term is that of a lead actor, whose presence within a film helps sell opening weekend tickets (after that, word of mouth and other factors have more clout). This can backfire, there's plenty of examples of films that have had troubled productions because they're "an actor X movie", and having them there is no guarantee of success. Some of the biggest flops of all time also have the biggest stars (Pluto Nash, Catwoman, Gigli, Battefield Earth, etc., etc.)

                        "Jackson could have gone to an LA restaurant and grabbed a bunch of waiter/actors"

                        Are you really saying that the choice is between internationally recognised names, and some unemployed people picked up off the street? Or, are you saying that an actor having a body of work that people might recognise suddenly makes them a "star"?

                        "he hired people we knew because their presence (and talent) legitimized the movie"

                        No, he hired the best people for the roles. That many of them had worked in notable previous movies was a factor, but not the primary casting reason. There are many newcomers and lesser known actors in major parts.

                        I notice that you left off Viggo Mortsensen off the list, for example - a man who not only had little star power at the time, but was also a last minute replacement for Stuart Townsend - an even lesser known name - when he dropped out. Ditto Orlando Bloom, who had only one cinematic role before the first LoTR movie was released, and Dominic Monaghan who had only done TV work. Did anyone know who Andy Serkis was at the time? Not really, but it's hard to think of anyone else who could have achieved what he did - and his presence was a big factor in the popularity of the trilogy.

                        It might be hard to picture these things now, since many of those names and faces are extremely familiar to us now, but the casting process wasn't simply Jackson looking at a list of "stars".

                        "There are exceptions - once a year maybe a movie will be successful with no stars, like Napoleon Dynamite"

                        Define "successful". You seem to be classing it as "blockbuster", whereas the sane criteria would surely be "made a reasonably sized profit". Within that criteria, there's plenty of examples.

                        But then, you also seem to be classing "star" as "anyone involved in any part of the production in front of or behind the camera with notable prior work", so it's no wonder there's few films that fall outside of that criteria.

                        You've also rejected entire genres, so I wouldn't be surprised if you reject all the films made outside of the Hollywood system, in the US or outside, in English or not, that still manage to turn profits without recognisable stars. Even more, if you ignore your original arbitrary $5 million restriction, as you have done when mentioning Dynamite (a $400K budget).

                        So, realistically - yes, stars (in the normal sense of the term) can help a movie. No, they're not the only way to get films funded and sold, although some avenues can be easier if you do, and there are plenty of movies that prove that you don't. I'm not saying that this isn't how mainstream Hollywood operates at the moment - it's just that it's far from the only way, and there's plenty of examples if you don't deliberately redefine terms to exclude them.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          jupiterkansas (profile), 19 Jan 2015 @ 10:13am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                          That's why I was asking for examples to know where people were coming from, and I was reacting to the comments here that seems largely to be "Every waiter in LA is an actor; hire one of them for a reasonable salary." That's just not how the business works or ever will work - here or in any other country.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • icon
                            PaulT (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 1:16am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                            "I was reacting to the comments here that seems largely to be "Every waiter in LA is an actor; hire one of them for a reasonable salary.""

                            Well, that's only been said by one person here apart from you, and you didn't reply to that guy. (Zonker, Jan 16th, 2015 @ 1:41pm)

                            The guy you responded to said "tons of movies are made without big stars in them -- many of them not only excellent, but commercially successful"

                            Do you see the difference? The problem is that you've not only picked on something that was not said by the people you're responding to, but then tried to redefine terms to back up your argument.

                            "That's just not how the business works or ever will work - here or in any other country."

                            There's plenty of stories of great actors and actresses being "discovered" in such ways and getting big roles quickly - ranging from legendary stories like Lana Turner being discovered at a drugstore to Iko Uwais getting his roles on Merantau and The Raid films because Gareth Evans liked his style when filming a documentary. Open casting calls are sometimes used to cast leads as well as background players.

                            I *will* say that this is unusual, and you can't depend on it as a business model but it happens. What happens more is that films get funded for a multitude of reasons, and those reasons don't always involve "stars", no matter how you define the term.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      John Fenderson (profile), 19 Jan 2015 @ 9:36am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                      "It's true that the way Hollywood operates is rather star-obsessed in terms of lead actors"

                      Yes, but Hollywood is far from the only place where great movies are made. In any case, since you challenged me to name some major movies without stars, I will name two that I could find with a quick web search: the first Star Wars and ET. There are lots and lots more, but I couldn't quickly find a comprehensive list and I didn't think it was worth devoting a lot of time to.

                      I did find an interesting study about whether major stars help or hurt a movie's profitability (this appears to be something that's been a matter of industry debate for longer than I've been alive). That paper claims that on average, a major star adds about $3 million in theatrical revenues.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                      • icon
                        jupiterkansas (profile), 19 Jan 2015 @ 10:10am

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                        Not to keep arguing the point, but Alec Guinness was definitely a major star when Star Wars came out, and Spielberg was a major star when ET came out - about as close to a movie star as a film director gets.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          John Fenderson (profile), 19 Jan 2015 @ 10:44am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                          True about Alec Guiness -- sort of. His star had faded long before Star Wars came out (the last widely known movie he was in before Star Wars was 20 years earlier with Hotel Paradiso), so half point for that. Moviegoers in Star Wars' demographic largely didn't know who he was. Even now, his only fame to most people is that he was Obi-Wan Kenobi.

                          Spielberg doesn't count as he's not an actor. I'm not buying that directors or producers count as "stars" in this discussion, since I'm almost certain that's not who Chartier was talking about.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • icon
                            jupiterkansas (profile), 19 Jan 2015 @ 2:31pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                            Hotel Paradiso was 10 years before Star Wars, and Alec Guiness was in Murder by Death only a year before Star Wars, and it was the 15th highest grossing film of 1976. Lucas was adamant about getting a star for the role because, as I have argued, it gave the film legitimacy.

                            And if Chartier got Spielberg to direct one of his film, he wouldn't care Spielberg cast nothing but kindergartners. Spielberg is a star.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 1:50am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                              "Alec Guiness was in Murder by Death only a year before Star Wars"

                              ...but he wasn't the "star" of the film. It's an ensemble cast that's usually credited alphabetically, and later advertising focusses on other characters. People weren't going to see "the new Alec Guinness movie", and hadn't been for a number of years.

                              It's true that Lucas wanted a respectable actor in the role of Obi Wan. It's also true that he cast Harrison Ford after "discovering" him while doing carpentry for Lucas' office. He decided to cast him after being impressed with the delivery in line readings he'd helped out with following that meeting, not because he was a "star".

                              I think John's point is simple - while Guinness' presence was a boon, it was minor to the production. The real "star" of that film was the work done by the newly created ILM and the various production designers who made it all memorable - with some help from its mostly unknown cast. Not because a known actor accepted a supporting role.

                              "And if Chartier got Spielberg to direct one of his film, he wouldn't care Spielberg cast nothing but kindergartners"

                              He would, however, care about the amount of money being spent, the commercial potential of the film outside of the director's name, the script and subject matter, and hundreds of other factors. He would still care about those things without Spielberg's involvement. The "star" nature of the director might give him some leeway, but not carte blanche.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                        • icon
                          PaulT (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 12:42am

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                          "about as close to a movie star as a film director gets."

                          Possibly, but you have to redefine the term "movie star" away from referring to an actor, as it usually does.

                          That's the problem - you're redefining language to avoid conceding a point. By your definition, Greg Nicotero getting involved in a film's effects or Graham Humphreys designing the poster makes them a "star" because they're helping fund or sell the film. But, they would never be seen on screen, and most of the film's potential audience would have no clue who they were - making a mockery of a term normally applied to people like Tom Cruise.

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                          • icon
                            jupiterkansas (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 8:20am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                            And that's how I'm defining a star - someone who most of the audience has a clue who they are. Lots of people have a clue who Spielberg, Jackson, Nolan, and JJ Abrams are. They are names used to sell a movie because people know their names, which is what makes them stars. I think it's a perfectly valid definition, and I think it's the same definition that Chartier is using.

                            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                            • icon
                              PaulT (profile), 21 Jan 2015 @ 12:00am

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                              "I think it's the same definition that Chartier is using."

                              Well, you're both using such a wide definition that it renders the term meaningless. You're essentially saying "a startup can raise more capital if their employees have a good track record in the relevant industry". Well, no shit...

                              Of course, you're still intent on ignoring all of the examples where this hasn't been necessary (I mean, outright rejecting sci-fi/horror at least indicates you understand there's other selling points), as well as the many examples where this has massively backfired, but you're both welcome to your definition. Just don't be surprised when conversations get confused because you're defining the term in ways that most other people don't.

                              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Zonker, 16 Jan 2015 @ 4:55pm

        Re: Re: He's right about one thing

        If it takes a big star like Bruce Willis to get the money to make a $5 million movie, then at a million dollars a day you will only have five days to film your big star with no cash left over.

        On the other hand, you could pay several up and coming LA waiters or other aspiring actors something like $150,000 a year each to star in your movie and still have plenty of cash to spare. Assuming you have a decent casting director, of course, you'd still be able to make a quality movie.

        If you asked me to finance my choice of five million dollar movie proposals above, I'd pick the latter without hesitation as I know I'm getting more for my money. Maybe I just have more sense than Hollywood though.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 5:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

          You'd be getting more actors for your money, but good luck getting someone to watch your movie with no actors they've never heard of, good luck getting a distributor, and good luck getting funding.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 2:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

            "good luck getting someone to watch your movie with no actors they've never heard of"

            You seem to have deluded yourself into thinking this is the only reason people watch a movie. It can be a primary reason, but it's a long way from the only one.

            "good luck getting a distributor,"

            This can be a problem. As a horror fan who regularly attends festivals, I've seen many excellent movies that have had problems with this. Sadly, it's probably because too many people have your mindset, so they plump for generic half-assed crap because they managed to get a face they can badly photoshop onto a poster. Pity. But, still, there are many examples of films that were successful without a "name" attached.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 17 Jan 2015 @ 4:29am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

            but good luck getting someone to watch your movie with no actors they've never heard of
            Seriously? You're suggesting people are that shallow that they only went to see "The amazing spiderman" because of the cameos by a handful of "stars"? Me, I'd never even heard of Andrew Garfield before that - not that that improved the film any... I also didn't recognise anybody in Guardians of the Galaxy.

            Who would you say are the "stars" in Ouija? (Which did better that Exodus it seems despite the latter's smattering of "stars")

            Sure if you're going to expand the definition of "stars" to "people who have been in other films so you might recognise them", you might have a hard time getting funding without - I imagine film makers as well as investors like a certain amount of actual proven acting talent most times. On the other hand a genuine "big name" tends to discourage me and many people I know since they're often extremely 1-dimensional actors (/actresses)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              jupiterkansas (profile), 20 Jan 2015 @ 6:23pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

              Guardians of the Galaxy had Chris Pratt fresh off the very popular Parks and Rec, and Zoe Saldana, the star of Avatar. Also respectable names like Glenn Close and John C. Reilly (in pitiful roles).

              It also had the brand name of Marvel, which Spiderman also had (not to mention the brand name of Spiderman). If you're dealing with major brand names like that, then yeah, you probably don't need Bruce Willis to get funding and distribution.

              I've never even heard of Ouija, and I'm a bit of movie buff. But oh, look, it's produced by Micheal Bay. Michael Bay is a star (and he's even acted!) so I rest my point.

              Yes, most people are shallow and want to know who's in a movie before they see it, and they expect that actor to deliver more of whatever they did before.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 21 Jan 2015 @ 12:26am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: He's right about one thing

                "It also had the brand name of Marvel"

                Yes, brand name. NOT STAR. Do you yet understand that words have actual meanings and not whatever crap you decide it means at any given moment? Nobody would argue that a brand name doesn't help sell a movie. But half the audience of GotG didn't know who Pratt was, and nobody's going to see a movie just because Glenn Close has a bit part.

                By your own admission, it's the brand that sold this movie, so stop trying to redefine terms to pretend that you're right about "stars" being the only thing that sells films.

                "I'm a bit of movie buff"

                At this point, I'm calling bullshit. Not only do you not know various things about movies (you're a "buff" and you'd never even heard of a movie that was the US #1 for 2 weeks?), and not only are you intent on finding any excuse to use a random definition of "star" that nobody else uses, you don't know what a production company is.

                Bay is the head of Platinum Dunes, the production company that made Ouija. His name did not appear on any of the advertising. In fact, Google the posters. Go on, take a close look. Do you see what's NOT headlining the poster? NAMES. It's got "from the producers of" a few other PD productions, but some versions of the poster don't even mention the names of the cast and crew, and none that I recall had any names front and centre.

                If your definition was correct, Bay's name would be plastered all over the thing, as would the names of the cast who would have been necessary to sell the thing. Yet, despite your "superior" knowledge never having heard of the thing, it's made a massive profit.

                So now, your definition of "star" is someone in charge of a production company, albeit probably not day-to-day, whose names people might recognise even though they're not mentioned in the film's advertising. Admit it, your definition is flimsy. This is why you outright rejected horror movies before - you know they sell without fitting your definition, thus proving it wrong.

                "Yes, most people are shallow and want to know who's in a movie before they see it, and they expect that actor to
                deliver more of whatever they did before."

                Which is why nobody went to see the Paranormal Activity movies, and the last couple of Schwarzenegger (or Costner, or Stallone, etc.) movies did so well, right?

                You're correct in some ways, just stop trying to pretend that "star" is the be all and end all. Or, at least admit that the damn word means something different to what you're pretending it means and admit that there's other words that actually apply.

                Nobody would argue with "selling a movie requires a hook, and the star of the movie is one that's often used". Why continue to try and twist words where they don't fit?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 10:59pm

      Re: He's right about one thing

      Exactly! I watched Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow despite Tom Cruise having a role in them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Zonker, 19 Jan 2015 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re: He's right about one thing

        Actually, I deliberately chose not to see either of those movies precisely because Tom Cruise was starring in them. Same with several of my friends. Sometimes this "star power" can actually harm your movie if that star is not liked.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:12pm

    Psssh, if you'd seen some of the crap the MPAA has tried to push through the White House...

    They at one point basically tried to make it so the MPAA would be the SOLE voice that got to decide if a TV show or movie was "distributed" to the public or not (including being 'allowed' to post your own videos online)..with no oversight....basically you'd have to bribe the MPAA or they'd not even let you post your kids birthday party video.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Shore (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 2:18pm

    Bruce Willis was not in the movie, so how on earth did it ever get made in the first place?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 5:09pm

    What if this is a sophisticated conspiracy?

    1. Chartier pisses off crew workers, including those who have access to pre-releases.
    2. Pissed off workers leak pre-releases to the torrents as a revenge.
    3. Chartier and his German friends shake down file-sharers.
    4. Profit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2015 @ 8:41pm

    They get paid their standard rate no matter what the film does.

    Not always. There have been a small number of low budget films that have back end deals for the crew. "In The Bedroom" and "O" to name two. Once they recapture 200% of the stated, upfront production cost- additional income and benefit payments were paid to the crew. This led to additional, five figure checks paid to the crew.

    Also, most below-the-line benefit plans are partially funded by a films earnings. A percentage of North American box office revenue, foreign distribution, DVD sales, basic cable, premium channels etc are generate contributions to both health and retirement plans.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    techflaws (profile), 16 Jan 2015 @ 11:06pm

    So, you know, you frighten people and then they stop.

    And thus all piracy of Hurt Locker was magically stopped!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2015 @ 6:08am

    crossed off the list

    "And then you sued all those downloaders and it got crossed off the list of movies I would rent"

    Same here. I refuse to see any movies they make

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2015 @ 4:35pm

    This kind of tunnel-vision is a big reason why the recording industry has crashed and burned. Believing that *ALL* digital music was poison, and that every (unauthorized) download was a lost sale, it took many years of mass-lawsuits against fans, through a period of steadily declining sales, before the industry finally figured out that suing MP3 downloaders not only failed to improve sales, but in fact accelerated the post-2000-recession sales decline that they originally blamed on Napster.

    Perhaps I'm far from the only customer who has been boycotting commercial music since the start of the RIAA's mass-lawsuit campaign in 2003. We can only wonder what might have happened if the record industry had the sense to embrace digital music from the early days of the Internet, instead of waging scorched-earth warfare trying to kill it -- and losing that war badly.

    Although most of Hollywood learned that lesson by observing the record industry's tragic miscalculations, unfortunately a few ignorant film makers still hold onto the RIAA's discredited theories even long after the most stuborn hard-liners within the RIAA finally admitted they'd been wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2015 @ 8:58am

    "Well, if everybody had given me one dollar, that would be 8 million dollars, and the movie cost 11, so we lost 80 percent of the movie to piracy."

    And how many did they get to settle for 4K?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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