I had thought that we'd gotten past the point at which Hollywood execs would freak out over the use of a modern, better, more efficient technology to help promote a movie, but apparently in the minds of some of the folks who run the big movie studios, we're perpetually stuck in 2004 or so. That's the only explanation I can figure out for this wacky article from TheWrap, which highlights what appears to be a single (completely anonymous, of course) Hollywood studio big shot absolutely losing his mind over the fact that a major movie is promoting itself by distributing the first 7 minutes for free via BitTorrent
, in a marketing deal done with BitTorrent Inc. Indie studio Cinedgim made the deal with BitTorrent to promote their new film Arthur Newman
, starring Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, and it seems like a perfectly normal way to promote stuff, but not to one studio exec who can't even bother to stand behind his words by identifying himself.
"It's a deal with the devil," one studio executive told TheWrap. "Cinedigm is being used as their pawn."
A deal with the devil? Funny, I remember most of the major studios doing deals with BitTorrent Inc.
six years ago. That was for a poorly planned out and poorly executed video download store, but still. Most people now recognize that there are all sorts of opportunities in going where your customers and fans are
. That a Hollywood exec doesn't see that is a bit scary for whichever studio they happen to work for.
"It's great for BitTorrent and disingenuous of Cinedigm," said the executive. "The fact of the matter is BitTorrent is in it for themselves, they're not in it for the health of the industry."
Now that's just funny. As if the studio execs are not in it for themselves? The studios have focused on a business model that sucks the life out of the "health of the industry" for ages, by trying to squeeze out as much money as possible from just a few ideas -- doing remakes and sequels and adaptations, rather than doing anything that is new or unique. And then they use Hollywood accounting
to make sure the actual creators almost never get paid any additional money, while they make many times over the amount invested. A statement like that pretends that the exec has the "health of the industry" in mind, rather than his own bottom line.
And, of course, there's a strong argument that this statement is totally wrong as well. Cinedigm really does appear to have a much bigger focus on the health of the industry than this nameless studio exec, because Cinedigm is trying to adapt with the times
and to embrace new opportunities
"I really missed them being at the forefront of the piracy issue," the studio executive said. "I don't remember them going, 'Naughty, naughty, don't use our technology for that.' They don't give a shit."
Huh? Actually, from rather early on, BitTorrent made clear that you shouldn't use their technology to infringe, because BitTorrent does nothing to hide your IP address. When it first came out, in fact, most people talked about how it wasn't a great technology for infringement, given the lack of secrecy involved in using it. Furthermore, from as far back as I can remember, BitTorrent the company (which this exec seems to confuse entirely with BitTorrent the protocol) has worked hard to promote legitimate and non-infringing uses. We already talked about the (failed) partnerships with Hollywood in the past, but the company has long been focused on helping to try to find ways to drag Hollywood execs into the 21st century with a better, more efficient platform for distribution.
Really, this exec just seems to be acting in a knee jerk way against BitTorrent the company without understanding very much at all. Hell, even the idea of releasing the first seven minutes of a movie online for free to drive more views -- that's been done for years. There's almost nothing new here at all. In fact, we wrote about a movie studio doing the exact same thing thirteen years ago
when Dreamworks did that with Chicken Run
. How could it possibly be a bad thing to release the first 7 minutes of a movie for free, in an effort to convince people that it will be worth their while to go see the full thing? Well, I can think of one way: if you make crap movies where the first seven minutes will convince you not
to pay to see the rest. Perhaps that's this exec's problem.
Thankfully, the forward-looking folks at Cinedigm don't seem put off by one anonymous exec at a competing studio:
"Blaming BitTorrent for piracy is like blaming a freeway for drunk drivers, " Jill Calcaterra, Cinedigm's chief marketing officer said. "How people use it can be positive for the industry or it can hurt the industry. We want it help us make this indie film successful."
Furthermore, it appears that they're planning to use BitTorrent to promote a number of other films this way as well.