Hollywood Keeps Breaking Box Office Records... While Still Insisting That The Internet Is Killing Movies

from the because-if-the-story-sounds-good,-why-bother-with-the-facts dept

Hollywood is still 100% focused on trying to blame the internet for any of its woes, mostly with bogus attacks on internet companies it doesn't like. And yet... it seems to keep on setting box office records. The latest is that Universal Pictures has broken a new record in bringing in $2 billion in box office revenue faster than any other studio in history, pushed over the top by the successful opening weekend of "Straight Outta Compton" (a movie that seems to have some big fans in Silicon Valley).
Thanks to the overperformance of N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” Universal Pictures is tracking to cross the $2 billion mark at the domestic box office on Saturday, setting a new speed record in doing so.

Universal’s historic climb will break Warner Bros.’ previous record of reaching $2 billion by December 25, 2009. The studio is also extremely likely to break the record for all-time domestic box office high, which was set by WB in 2009 with $2.1 billion.
That does not sound like an industry that is having a problem getting people into the theaters, even if the movies are available via infringement. But, people will argue, these services are actually harming the "home video" revenue stream. But that's questionable as well. First off, it was Hollywood that angrily fought against ever allowing a home video market in the first place (remember that?). And, more to the point, we've seen over and over again that when the industry actually adapts and offers content in a reasonable format at a reasonable fee, people will pay at home, just like they do in theaters.

But, of course, due to continued Hollywood confusion and jealousy, it's still holding back lots of movies from Netflix streaming -- one successful service that has shown that it's totally possible to "compete" with infringing content.

So, again, it's confusing as to what Hollywood's real complaint is. It's shown that if it makes good films, people will go out to the theaters to see them, rather than just watch them online. And if it offers them in a reasonable manner for a reasonable price online, people will pay for that as well. And yet, it doesn't do a very good job of this and then blames the internet for its own failures to adapt. Seems like a weird strategy. If I were an investor in those companies, I'd wonder why they've spent the better part of two decades so focused on "stopping piracy" rather than doing a better job delivering what the public wants.

Filed Under: adapting, box office, business models, hollywood, internet, movies, records
Companies: netflix, universal pictures


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Aug 2015 @ 5:38am

    Re: non-sequitur concept

    The problem is that the losses from piracy are not realistically quantifiable, nor are losses from their business models (e.g. windowing).

    For example, if a person pirates a movie, there's no way to know what their action would have been had the pirated copy not been available. Would they have gone to the cinema to see it? Would they have waited for the DVD release? Would they have waited for it to be on Netflix or in a $5 bargain bin, or simply borrowed a copy from a friend? There's no way to really quantify that, just as there's no way to quantify how many people did pirate but then ended up spending money afterwards anyway (e.g. someone who couldn't make it to the cinema but then pre-orders the Blu - I know at least 2 people who did this with Mad Max: Fury Road).

    There's a lot of factors involved, and unless you make the most obvious but clearly incorrect assumptions (e.g., the oft-debunked "every download is a lost sale at full retail price"), you can't show solid figures on what's been "lost". Thus, the argument continues because any lost revenue, real or imagined, automatically because about piracy rather than bad product, bad advertising, unavailability of product due to windowing, etc. The shareholders are being told "our movie tanked because of piracy" not "we released a terrible movie on the same day our rivals released the best reviewed blockbuster of the year" or "our rules state we have to make people in country X wait 6 months for no apparent reason and people had already seen it by then".

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