Aussie Film Distributor That Pledged To End Movie Release Delays To Combat Piracy Delays Movies Anyway

from the lego-my-movies dept

Back in 2014, much was made about piracy in Australia, specifically whether Aussies using VPN services to get the American flavor of Netflix should be more heavily combatted and how release windows for movies in Australia were pushing the public to pirate the film instead of waiting for it. While much of the conversation about Netflix was unfortunate, we did see some positive signs about release windows coming from distributors in Australia. One distributor, Village Roadshow, even had its CEO admit how badly a delayed-release window had boned them when it came to the wildly popular The Lego Movie.

Burke admitted last night that the delayed release of The Lego Movie in Australia after the release in the United States to coincide with the school holidays was a mistake.

"We made one hell of a mistake with Lego. It was an Australian film, we financed it together with Warner Brothers, it was made here in King's Cross. Because it was so important, we held it for a holiday period; it was a disaster," he said.

"It caused it to be pirated very widely, and as a consequence — no more. Our policy going forward is that all of our movies we will release day and date with the United States."

These kinds of revelations are a positive sign. Rather than shouting about piracy and copyright law, Burke realized that what spurred much of the piracy was his company's refusal to release the movie as soon as it became available. Instead, the company delayed the release to coincide with school holidays, theorizing that this would create a better opening for the film in Australia. The public, however, demonstrated that it would much rather see the film as soon as it should have been available, as it was heavily pirated in Australia.

So, lesson learned, right? Nooooooooope. Instead, Village Roadshow recently performed the exact same delayed-for-school-holidays release for a movie. The name of that movie? Lego Batman, because if you're going to do the exact opposite of what you pledged, you might as well make it as ironic a flipflop as possible.

AUSTRALIAN moviegoers were left with a bitter, yet familiar, taste in their mouth in December when the distributor of the The Lego Batman movie announced it would have a delayed release date, premiering Down Under more than six weeks after it hits US cinemas.

According to the Village Roadshow CEO, “99 per cent” of the films distributed by the company line up with the US release date. But in this instance, they believe the loss of sales due to piracy will not outweigh the boon of the school holidays when Aussie families fork out at the box office.

So it's the exact same theory that the exact same CEO said didn't work a mere two years ago? Come on, guys. What has changed in two years to make them think it's going to be any different this time around? And, perhaps more importantly, what can the company possibly say when Lego Batman is being heavily pirated in the exact same way as The Lego Movie? It can't scream about piracy, or the public will simply refer them back to that thing they said two years ago when they admitted it was the fault of the delayed release. It can't pledge to kill the delayed windows, because it already did that and it turns out that it was a pledge worth nothing. Instead, Village Roadshow will be able to merely stay silent and not count the money it should have been making.

The statements coming from Burke this go around are far less encouraging.

“Yes, we will lose a lot to piracy, but the other side of the coin is the film is available when the audience that goes to these sort of films wants to see it,” he said. “When certain films go out in non-holiday periods, our audiences get very cross because the kids are not available to take them.”

Aside from the fact that this line of thinking didn't work with a nearly identical movie delayed in an identical way a mere two years ago, nothing about this statement makes sense. If you're losing a lot of viewers to piracy, that's because they don't want the release delayed. It can't be both that the film is heavily pirated and the public wants the delay causing the piracy. That makes zero sense.

I can't wait to see Burke's reaction in the window between the American release and the Australian release.


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  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 10 Mar 2017 @ 1:10pm

    Come again?

    “Yes, we will lose a lot to piracy, but the other side of the coin is the film is available when the audience that goes to these sort of films wants to see it,” he said.

    So if the people who want to see the movie will wait to see it in six weeks, then the people who pirate the movie now don't want to see the movie?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2017 @ 1:41pm

      Re: Come again?

      What he is overlooking is that people these days, inducing kids, often have friends all over the world. This increases the pressure to get a copy of a film close in time, like within 24 hours, as their friends, so then can then go on to talk about it without spoilers.

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

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 12 Mar 2017 @ 8:21am

      Re: Come again?

      No - the people who want to go to see the movie will wait to see it in six weeks; the people who pirate the movie now just want to see the movie, they don't care about going to see it.

      Or that's what I think he's saying, at least. Whether there's any water-holding to that rationale is another question.

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

    • identicon
      David, 12 Mar 2017 @ 9:19am

      Re: Come again?

      Given the long-tail revenue of movies, it's quite apparent from all statistical analysis that audience wants to see the movie when it comes out. Anywhere. So if any section of the market has that movie, the entire global market for that movie will obviously want to see it at the same time.

      Someone obviously doesn't understand a global entertainment marketplace.

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

  • identicon
    hegemon13, 10 Mar 2017 @ 1:29pm

    It's a different take

    I see this more as the CEO having a different take on it now. Previously, he saw piracy, and assumed piracy=lost sales, and therefore a disaster. Perhaps this is more of a sign of enlightenment, that piracy is not such a disaster, and they'll still have more sales by releasing the movie during a premium marketing window. Perhaps he recognizes that many of those pirates will still take their kids to experience the movie in the theater when it releases.

    Okay, maybe that's a naively optimistic take, but it is a slightly different argument this time around. He's acknowledging that yes, it will cause more piracy, but that's a loss he's willing to accept.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2017 @ 2:57pm

      Re: It's a different take

      Considering that this is one of the major organisations that see piracy as the greatest of evils (to their bottom line) and that they are behind the the push to "kill" piracy here (no matter the cost to non-involved people and organisations), then, no, they do not have any enlightenment as far as piracy is concerned.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2017 @ 1:33pm

    So ummm, is it really that crazy and impossible a concept for a movie to come out for a few weeks and then go back to theaters again during a holiday period? Am I missing something?

    Of course I never understood why they don't regularly show some old movies in theaters. Shoot, could put up a site asking for suggestions and poll people, the winning movie gets shown for the next week. Tada, suddenly really old films like the original star trek movies will make box office profits once again.

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

  • identicon
    Jason, 10 Mar 2017 @ 1:34pm

    “When certain films go out in non-holiday periods, our audiences get very cross because the kids are not available to take them.”

    I didn't realize they don't have evenings or weekends in Australia.

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

  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 10 Mar 2017 @ 1:54pm

    premiering Down Under more than six weeks after it hits US cinemas.

    Holy cow. I thought we were talking a 24 hour delayed release due to timezone differences until I saw this. A 6 week delay in today's Internet age is just insane and simply undoable.

    Not only is there piracy to worry about, but once people in other countries have seen the movie and reviewed it, people in Australia will already know if the movie is good or bad, and decide if they want to watch it or not just from those reviews.

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

    • identicon
      Yeebok, 11 Mar 2017 @ 5:03am

      We're still waiting for John Wick 2

      ... and we have another 5 weeks before it hits the cinemas here. Think we get it 10 weeks late.

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

    • identicon
      Yeebok, 11 Mar 2017 @ 5:03am

      We're still waiting for John Wick 2

      ... and we have another 5 weeks before it hits the cinemas here. Think we get it 10 weeks late.

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

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 10 Mar 2017 @ 4:05pm

    Graham Burke is a cretin. He's always screaming and raving about naughty Australian pirates and answering when asked by a journalist a couple of years ago about delaying movie releases with, "Because we can." guarantees that piracy will continue.
    Lego Movie was delayed by, I think, 54 days. In his generosity he's releasing Lego Batman a WHOLE 6 days earlier. Wow, thanks Mr Burke. Still not going to stop pirating of the movie.

    John Wick, Chapter 2 - almost ten week delay.

    One of the best delays recently was the film Priest (2011) with a delay of three and a half months. I had friends in the US send me a DVD when it was released over there and got it some weeks before it hit the theatres here.

    I'm also betting that him and Village Roadshow are big donours to the LNP government, who will bend over and part their cheeks for the big end of town.

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

  • identicon
    Jason, 10 Mar 2017 @ 7:39pm

    Graham Burke and other representatives have successfully lobbied the court to block torrent sites back in December 2016. Now that we Australians can't download their movies, Village Roadshow have no more incentive to do right by us and stick to their promise of day/date releases. We should count ourselves lucky that they deign to release the movie at all. It's a privilege to give money to them.

    Of source, what's actually going to happen is that we will bypass the torrent site blocking by using custom DNS or VPN (assuming we have to, since most of the sites on the list have already shut down years ago) rather than going to the cinema.

    Village Roadshow have, time and time again, shown themselves to be out of touch, and under the false impression that "if you beat people with a stick, they will love you". Village Roadshow, you need to update your thinking. We're happy to go to the cinema and watch your movies, but we don't want to wait six weeks to do so. If you actively prevent us from giving you our money for the products you are offering elsewhere in the world, when we have told you in no uncertain terms, that we want this thing, you're not going to get our money at all.

    I can't see any reason why cinemas can't show [insert movie here] at day/date release and re-release it for the school holidays if it's a popular kids movie. As mentioned above, Australia still has evenings and weekends - it's not like kids only go to the movies in the school holidays. And there's plenty of kids movies that get release outside the school holiday window.

    Unfortunately, things aren't going to get any better until the current heads of these organisations step down and let more pragmatic and technology-minded people take their place. It seems that everyone who isn't part of the old "release window" industries knows that people are willing to pay for content if it's available to them at a time/place convenient to them.

    Until then, I'll spend my money on a high-speed internet connection and download the film when it is released, instead of saving it until Village Roadshow decides they'll accept it from me.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 11 Mar 2017 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      They are still also in denial about who is "hurting the (actual) artist(s)". Because it is pretty clear who that is, if even true in this matter.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2017 @ 1:01pm

    When the first-in-world movie release event coincides with an Aussie non-holiday, you have a choice:

    1) release it simultaneously in Australia and suffer from people that don't go due to school nights (tends to be the less eager ones)

    2) delay the Australia release and suffer from piracy (tends to be the more eager ones)

    You have two overlapping markets whose peak performance occurs weeks apart. Penalizing piracy is an attempt at market segmentation to overcome the lossage that results.

    Since the delay between the peaks is several weeks but the earth is 0.04 light-seconds in diameter, the underlying problem is the large magnitude of the speed of light. The discrepancy is around a factor of 10^8.

    This is a matter of PHYSICAL law. The movie industry is advised to invest their resources in lobbying. As much as possible. It's worked before!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Mar 2017 @ 3:28pm

    What do customers know?

    It's my product & as a multi-million dollar per year company executive who knows what he is doing I will make the best decision for my company no matter what the customer wants.
    Customers & lowly staff aren't paid my salary to come to a sensible decision so therefore they aren't worth shit in my business world.

    Yours,
    The biggest Burke,
    on behalf of all the other big Burkes who know what's good for you.

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

  • identicon
    Peter, 12 Mar 2017 @ 3:01pm

    Idea - release it twice

    Have a release for the "adults" early viewers who want to see it straight away. Focus the cinema times on the evenings. Then 6 weeks later, release for the families with day time and early evening times. If its that popular both sessions will be filled. Some people might even go twice, taking nephews & nieces etc.

    Why do they have to stick with the same models from 50 years ago?

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

  • identicon
    Onebox, 10 May 2017 @ 3:59am

    No one should encourage piracy. We should encourage whole movie team by watching movies in theatres. Netflix is treating Netflix very seriously these days. May be VPN may not work on Netflix soon.

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

  • identicon
    onebox hd, 12 May 2017 @ 3:04am

    Yes movie release delays cause a lot of damage to the distributors. Piracy is a nightmare to the film distributors.

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


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