Movie Industry

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
box office, copyright, movies, piracy

Companies:
disney



Piracy Killing Hollywood So Bad That Disney Made More Money In 2016 Than Any Studio Ever

from the must-be-because-of-the-mickey-mouse-copyright dept

Remember, to hear the MPAA tell it, piracy is really killing the movie industry. It's been whining about piracy for basically my entire lifetime, and constantly predicting its own demise if "something" is not done. And, despite the fact that Congress has repeatedly obliged Hollywood in ratcheting up copyright anti-piracy laws and despite the fact that the MPAA has been clearly wrong repeatedly (such that the new technologies it feared actually helped expand Hollywood's business), the studios continue to push for awful changes to copyright law, citing the horrors of piracy.

And yet... now it's coming out that Disney not only had a good year last year, it had the best year ever for a movie studio. Not surprisingly, Disney put out its own glowing press release over this:

Today, The Walt Disney Studios will become the first studio ever to reach the $7 billion threshold at the global box office, setting a new industry record. With a powerful $290 million global debut for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney's year-to-date grosses are $6,988.3 million from Jan. 1 through Dec. 18, 2016, including $2,700.4 million domestically, also an industry record, and $4,287.9 million internationally, a Disney record.

These phenomenal box office results are driven by films from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, and Lucasfilm, representing the first time that all five of these world-class brands have released films in the same calendar year.

"This historic achievement is possible because all of our film studios are bringing their absolute best to the table, telling great stories of all kinds that resonate with audiences across borders, gender, and generations," said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. "These films work because each one has not only something for everyone, but everything for someone. It's our honor to be able to create these experiences for audiences, and we're thankful to them for continuing to come out to the theater with us.

Indeed. Making great movies and making them accessible for people to watch is a great business strategy. Freaking out about a small group of people seeing infringing copies of the movie? Perhaps not so much. Either way, it's amusing to see how the studio's own PR drastically undermines the doom and gloom stories from the MPAA and Hollywood's other lobbyists about how dire the situation is. Maybe copyright infringement isn't such a big problem when you actually focus on making a quality product that people want.


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 9:46am

    Look at the first paragraph

    You've got an HTML link coming out in the article text.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 9:52am

    You do have to realize that without piracy, Disney would've made $7.1 billion in the global box office.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 10:37am

      Re:

      No no no, you have a math error there. Using Hollywood math to calculate sales lost to piracy they should have made 7 trillion billion dollars.

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

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re:

        In his Hitchhikers series, Douglas Adams used 'restaurant math'. If he were writing it today, it would have been 'Hollywood math'.

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

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 4:07pm

        Re: Re:

        That's 7 trillion that they still did not actually make, they had to pay it to themselves for other services.

        No movie ever makes money. Ever.

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

      • icon
        Wolfie0827 (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 6:52pm

        Re: Re:

        No, still wrong, according to the MPdoubleA (MP stands for Motion Picture and DoubleA stands for two assholes, one for the public to kiss and one for the Motion Picture Industry to F**k.) the profit if piracy did not exist would have been 7 Google (for those who are unaware a google is qa 1 followed by 99 zeros.)

        And for an insider note, Google the company chose the name for being the "Search engine that could handle 1 google sites."

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 7:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Close, but not quite.

          A Google is an internet search.

          A googol is the very large number you're referring to (although, yes, Google is named after a googol).

          And it's a one followed by 100 zeroes (or 10^100), not 99.

          But for the most part, you're pretty close.

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 26 May 2017 @ 9:56am

    Fire accountant

    Disney needs to fire it's accounting department. After all, there has been less than a handful of movie titles to ever make a profit.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 11:49am

      Re: Fire accountant

      Was going to point out this same thing. How could they possibly be turning a profit with the losses from all those blockbusters?

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 9:57am

    Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

    So, your assertions here are as usual, meaningless.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 10:16am

      Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

      And if you could conclusively prove that piracy—and piracy alone—prevented Disney from making another billion dollars, maybe we might care.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 10:46am

        Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

        Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/08/megaupload_piracy_study/

        BTW: link there rather than the study itself because The Register has an entirely different slant on Megaupload from Mike.

        But I don't believe that you criminals will care in any way.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 11:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          That is actually an interesting study, one I will have to read more about later to see how they got their numbers.

          The interesting thing I get from their abstract though is that piracy hurts digital sales and rentals. These are two things traditional studios still seem to be fighting against.

          I know of a few sites that will have high quality streams available long before any official ones show up.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 11:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

            Issue: There was a boost in sales but it was extremely temporary, before sales fell back to normal levels in the actual study aftermath.

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

        • identicon
          michael, 26 May 2017 @ 12:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

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

        • identicon
          michael, 26 May 2017 @ 12:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          "Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%"

          Actually the "study" claims 6.5% - 8.5%.

          And it's based on the industry's own numbers, which is something of a joke.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 12:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          What I want to know is how many hours of original music and video and photographs were lost due to the Megaupload shutdown. Some it it is priceless memories of kids growing up, weddings and other such family history.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 28 May 2017 @ 4:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

            Not just the works themselves, but how many sales were lost? Musicians were protesting when MegaUpload was being attacked because it represented a decent amount of income and marketing for them. What did they lose in income in total, compared to the supposed gains to the major corporations?

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

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 12:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          Correlation does not equal causation. Does the study prove conclusively that the shutdown of Megaupload was the lone singular cause of that boost in sales?

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

        • icon
          discordian_eris (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 2:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          You're right, I'm a criminal and I don't care. As soon as the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act passed, I completely ran out of fucks to give.

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

          • identicon
            David, 26 May 2017 @ 11:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

            As soon as the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act passed,

            Which one?

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

        • identicon
          Ca-ching, 27 May 2017 @ 9:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          What?????we are criminals?? I think not. If they didn't pay the stars of their movies they would profit a whole lot more. If it was affordable yes, I would go to see a movie, but $over $100.00 for 2 adults and 3 kids, I don't think so. As for cable try living where I do, I pay $200 mo. and still nothing to watch because of the way they bundle the stations.

          So cry me a river, people in the movie industry have NO IDEA what it's like to have to count your pennies.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 28 May 2017 @ 4:08am

          Re: Re: Re: Actually, numbers are big due to inflation, mergers (now includes FIVE not just Disney), and ANTI-PIRACY: they didn't just sit idle while pirates increased.

          Correlation != causation, of course. I've seen that study before, and it's highly misleading because it doesn't seem to take into account other factors.

          For example, and this is a big one no matter how you slice it, in that period studied Netflix began its international expansion and because available in 6 EU countries for the first time. CTRL+F netflix on the paper - only one result mentioning Netflix's Alexa ranking, not one word in consideration to this major factor. There are hundreds of other factors most likely to skew things that have been ignored. It's incomplete at best, dishonest at worst.

          But, you're too much of a liar to even consider the real facts, so carry on calling people names. Reality doesn't care and it will finally leave you people in the dust in time.

          "BTW: link there rather than the study itself because The Register has an entirely different slant on Megaupload from Mike."

          In other words, "I'm not interested in facts, only people who agree with what I wish they said"

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 9:58am

    But but but without piracy it would have been 7 trillion!!!!!!!!!

    We've had this anti-piracy thing going on since we moved coasts to bypass someone elses copyrights, its not working, no one believes us, we waste a buncha cash on it, we see no reason to question the course...

    Of course we are making sure we spend more time focused on those we are sure are stealing these extra trillions from us, and we keep screwing over the people who pay us. They'll get over it, its not like they can discover what those pirates have, that you can see them for free when we make it impossible to get because we can charge more if we make them wait.

    7 Billion screwing people who want to pay them... how much more could they have made cutting the worldwide rights Gordian Knot & making everything available worldwide to people willing to pay.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 26 May 2017 @ 9:59am

    Did any of these studios release a file that was not either a reboot or a sequel?

    $7b and they didn't even have to come up with an original idea.

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

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 10:11am

    Hollywood Accounting

    This makes me wonder how those that made the products Disney sells fared?

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 10:17am

    Hey Masnick- once you're done hating on artists for the day, maybe you can get to writing that article about your hero Kim Dotcom trying to exploit the death of Seth Rich.

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

  • icon
    scotts13 (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 10:26am

    Not enough

    How much profit is "enough"? Null value. If they spend 10 million lobbying for changes that get them 10.01 million, that's good value for the stock holders.

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

  • identicon
    David, 26 May 2017 @ 11:25am

    And you know what?

    A good chunk is likely via the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

    Disney doesn't do subtle.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 26 May 2017 @ 1:08pm

      Re: And you know what?

      A good chunk is likely via the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

      I'm going to go ahead and assume that a significant chunk of Disney's 2016 box office did not come from a franchise that did not release any films in 2016.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 May 2017 @ 4:14am

      Re: And you know what?

      You could look at the figures, of course, rather than making an obviously false guess (there wasn't a Pirates movie released in 2016).

      (Domestic figures, I don't believe there's a similar chart available for international releases, though the titles will be almost the same)

      http://www.boxofficemojo.com/studio/chart/?yr=2016&view=company&studio=buenavista.htm

      1 Finding Dory BV $486,295,561 4,305 $486,295,561 100.0% 6/17/16
      2 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story BV $408,235,850 4,157 $532,177,324 76.7% 12/16/16
      3 Captain America: Civil War BV $408,084,349 4,226 $408,084,349 100.0% 5/6/16
      4 The Jungle Book (2016) BV $364,001,123 4,144 $364,001,123 100.0% 4/15/16
      5 Zootopia BV $341,268,248 3,959 $341,268,24 8 100.0% 3/4/16
      6 Star Wars: The Force Awakens BV $284,694,956 4,134 $936,662,225 30.4% 12/18/15
      7 Doctor Strange BV $229,876,337 3,882 $232,641,920 98.8% 11/4/16
      8 Moana BV $206,477,478 3,875 $248,757,044 8 3.0% 11/23/16
      9 Alice Through the Looking Glass BV $77,041,381 3,763 $77,041,381 100.0% 5/27/16
      10 Pete's Dragon (2016) BV $76,233,151 3,702 $76,233,151 100.0% 8/12/16
      11 The BFG BV $55,483,770 3,392 $55,483,770 100.0% 7/1/16
      12 The Finest Hours BV $27,569,558 3,143 $27,569,558 100.0% 1/29/16
      13 The Light Between Oceans BV $12,545,979 1,500 $12,545,979 100.0% 9/2/16
      14 The Good Dinosaur BV $12,370,650 1,735 $123,087,120 10.1% 11/25/15
      15 Queen of Katwe BV $8,850,753 1,259 $8,874,389 99.7% 9/23/16
      16 Bridge of Spies BV $1,865,978 523 $72,313,754 2.6% 10/16/15
      Summary of 16 Movies on Chart:
      Totals: $3,000,895,122 - - - -
      Averages: $187,555,945 - - - -

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 11:44am

    Those poor schmucks...

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

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 1:12pm

    Used to be that retail stores had clerks that would fetch your items for you, ring up the total and send you on your way.

    That changed. http://mentalfloss.com/article/85551/market-disrupted-how-piggly-wiggly-revolutionized-grocery-shopp ing Now this revolutionary new idea is pretty much universal: you fetch your own items, bring them to the clerk, who then rings you up and send you on your way.

    Are there problems with this model? Yep. It makes it easier for customers to shoplift; there's a certain amount of loss as a result. But retail stores have discovered that the benefits of the new model FAR outweigh the drawbacks, and they were making more profit at a lower cost while making the customers happier.

    How many gas stations offer full service these days?

    And it's not stopped there. Now -- due in part to ubiquitous, inter-connected electronic forms of payment -- stores are starting to have you check YOURSELF out, with one clerk supervising a handful of registers. I don't know if shrinkage increases as a result, but obviously it's worth it to them. (AND the extra cost of the new equipment, conversion of several checkout lanes, plus extra training for the clerks.) Gas stations have been doing this for a while; I never need to go inside or talk to a clerk unless the receipt printer is broken, or I need a snack. Swipe card, fill tank, drive off.

    Obviously steps are taken to keep shrinkage to a minimum, but it's otherwise treated as an inevitable cost of doing business. The most I ever see is a few particularly high-risk items being made a special case of.

    Hollywood has gone the opposite direction: instead of treating a minor amount of shrinkage as inevitable, but worth the cost due to economies of scale, they're pouring tremendous amounts of effort into reducing shrinkage at comparatively high costs. One of which is making their customers unhappy. Same with game companies, who toss tons of money at DRM that only inconveniences the people who actually buy their games.

    It's probably a form of Loss Aversion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion They're so afraid of losing a little that they don't see how much it's costing to prevent the loss. And they're losing anyway, which is why they keep doubling down.

    "Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim." - George Santayana

    Learn from Piggly Wiggly, guys. It's not too late.

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

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      It isn't much shrinkage either, when there is no actual loss. Not even distribution costs. Just someone potentially not making more money. Mostly it is just people who would never see something otherwise, so we are not even talking lost sales except for a small fraction of infringement. Which isn't as all pervasive as they claim anyway. It would be like Piggly Wiggly claiming their shelves are constantly empty from theft while making 10,000% profits somehow.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 2:02pm

    and dont forget the total bullshit of the supposed 'ransom' of the latest Disney movie because it was 'hi-jacked'!! i didn't believe the story when it was first put out and dont believe it now! the lengths a company will go to to try to secure further laws and even harsher punishment that do nothing but fuck up the progress of media on this planet and raise more contempt for them from the very people relied on, the customers!!!

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

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 26 May 2017 @ 2:45pm

      Re:

      Actually, I think that was a brainchild of the marketing department. All news is good news. Get the brand out. Free press on new movie release.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 5:34pm

    Bastards, making popular movies and all.

    Clearly the need to have their free speech limited to the satisfaction of pirates and tech wtiters.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2017 @ 12:00am

      Re:

      See, TechDirt has more legitimate comedy than almost anything else. You guys get the joke, right? Disney makes movies that people LOVE and pay for, willingly. But you want to disparage them regarding their stance on piracy. And one has nothing to do with the other. Funny, right?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 May 2017 @ 12:20am

      Re:

      Hmmm.. you seem to be wilfully misinterpreting the article to suggest that they're criticising the money making, rather than pointing out that general rhetoric of the studios about losing money is false. Strange, isn't it?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 6:37pm

    Pirates of the Caribbean

    Wait, so pirates actually helped Disney reach record sales?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 7:28pm

    Unlike mega-successfull Disney, Sony Pictures has an opportunity to blame it's huge 2016 loss on piracy rather than the simple fact that the company put out terrible movies last year.

    http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/sony-writes-down-13-billion-on-movie-division/new s-story/3893821b81de866bc06a4386a4bbb20a

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2017 @ 1:57am

      Re:

      Well if you are chairman of a company, which excuse ismost likely to preserve your job:

      I an useless at picking good ideas and directors for a film.

      or

      The pirates stole away our paying customers.

      ?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2017 @ 9:45pm

    Bleh. Remember the salad days of yore when an article like this could inspire 300 comments? Sigh

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

  • identicon
    GRELKA, 27 May 2017 @ 10:33am

    PIRACY 4EVA!!!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 May 2017 @ 6:42pm

    As well as paying corporate taxes in touch with reality, all of these mega global corporations should be required by congress of the us of a to pay a 10% infrastructure payment to "we the people" and to the state in which they operate. Call it the America Infrastructure Fund or IF.. The Big IF.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2017 @ 10:33pm

    You need to chat with Karl... hes been pushing a disney dying because of espn line for a while now.

    Is disney living or dying already?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 May 2017 @ 12:18am

      Re:

      Citation for where he claimed that Disney as a whole was dying? I'm sure that will be forthcoming, rather than just another AC trying to mislead because they can't refute the facts in the article.

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


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