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?


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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 8:26am

    "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.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 8:48am

    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.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 8:55am

      Re:

      I would argue that if the items that were taken were instantaneously replaced with an exact copy.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:15am

      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.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:59am

        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.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:19am

      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.

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    • identicon
      Xuuths, 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:42am

      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.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 10:18am

      Re:

      One could argue that the film would not have been successful without the free advertising that the leak gave it. As in, I just argued that using the same amount and quality of evidence as you did.

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    • identicon
      Whoever, 13 Jan 2016 @ 10:52am

      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.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 11:12pm

        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.

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    • icon
      PRMan (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 12:37pm

      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.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:13pm

        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.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 14 Jan 2016 @ 7:37am

        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.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      Would you ever argue that a grocery store with record sales shouldn't worry about shoplifting?
      Well, I wouldn't react by stationing armed guards in every aisle and requiring metal detectors on entrance and strip-searches on exit.

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    • icon
      JMT (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 3:25pm

      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?

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    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:35pm

      Re:

      shoplifting

      So, the movie is stolen?

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 11:08pm

      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?

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    • icon
      JBDragon (profile), 14 Jan 2016 @ 11:48am

      Re:

      Stealing a physical product is not the same as a Digital item that can be copied over and over and over again.

      If the store could create another Physical product to sell for nothing, you might have something.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:11am

    This is also a film where the script was leaked to the internet in January 2014. It was made anyway.

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  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:11am

    "holy $hit, look at all the money!"

    Ju$t Imagine if all of the "Good Cops" had gone and $een the film, what the box office take would have been!

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:22am

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

    Are you insane, distinguished sir? It is obvious that there are huge monsters to be fought. And my salary to be paid. - Don Chris Dodd de La Mancha

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:31am

    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.

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    • identicon
      Jason, 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:51am

      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?

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  • icon
    hoare (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:39am

    Is this really rocket science?
    My experience has been....
    People I know, that download movies, don't go to the theater.

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    • icon
      steell (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 11:07am

      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.

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    • icon
      JBDragon (profile), 14 Jan 2016 @ 11:51am

      Re:

      Really? Because I go every week. I generally see 8 or more movies in the theater a month!!!

      I won't comment on downloading movies, but your experience seems poor. By the way I have around 800 DVD, HD DVD and Blu-Ray Movies.

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  • icon
    jufnitz (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 9:49am

    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?

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    • icon
      PRMan (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 12:42pm

      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.

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      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 6:32pm

        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.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 8:30pm

          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.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 11:21pm

          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.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 10:07am

    Now I might have to go see this movie

    I had not heard of the 70 mm film so I just Googled it. Now I am thinking I will go see this film if I can find the 70 mm version.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 11:12am

    "Specifically, the 70mm version, something requiring special equipment that is unavailable to most pirates"

    I understand that the average pirate doesn't own a 70mm projector and screen, but when did they all get the Barco projectors. giant screens and 7.1 sound systems needed to watch the digital version?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 1:21pm

    Honestly, it is a great movie, that's why it's doing so well.

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    • icon
      JBDragon (profile), 14 Jan 2016 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      I didn't think the movie was great. It was OK, not very original. Lots of blood, which you expect in one of his movies. Kill Bill was a lot better.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2016 @ 1:30pm

    '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?

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  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 5:20pm

    The real reason it is doing so well

    This movie is breaking records because they were smart enough to release it at the same time as Star Wars.

    Everyone that is at the local megasuperplex that can't get in or doesn't want to see Star Wars again, will pop in to check this out.

    Brilliant strategy.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Jan 2016 @ 11:24pm

      Re: The real reason it is doing so well

      "Brilliant strategy."

      Also not a new one. It's called counterprogramming, and it happens with many movies competing with blockbusters.

      As ever - shock, horror! - the answer is for the studios to do their damn job properly, not to demand DRM, new laws and reduction of public rights.

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  • identicon
    Sirsoliloquy, 14 Jan 2016 @ 7:03pm

    This has got to be the most disingenuous article ever.

    According to boxofficemojo, The movie as a whole has only made $43 million in box office sales so far.

    The movie's a flop. Stop lying to make yourself feel better.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 14 Jan 2016 @ 11:18pm

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

      "The movie's a flop"

      By which criteria?

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      • identicon
        SirSoliloquy, 15 Jan 2016 @ 9:30am

        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.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 15 Jan 2016 @ 9:57am

          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.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2016 @ 6:38pm

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

          Wow, Whatever. If you're going to fake your IP address to sockpuppet the least you can do is not make yourself look completely obvious!

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 16 Jan 2016 @ 1:34am

          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.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 14 Jan 2016 @ 11:34pm

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

      Still more successful than Return of the Jedi, that's got to count for something.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2016 @ 1:37pm

    RIAA and MPAA: Illegally maximizing profits through file-sharing! It's a crime!

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


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