Tom Giovanetti is a wacky sort of copyright maximalist, who insists that "copyright is property, no questions asked" and never misses an opportunity to defend stronger and stronger copyright. Every so often he pops off with something totally nonsensical like the time he insisted that copyright could never be used for censorship
. He recently spouted off, comically, about how "piracy" is "killing movie franchises."
Now, this might be a surprise to anyone who, you know, actually pays attention to Hollywood. Because nearly every top grossing film these days is... part of a movie franchise. Let's take a look at the top performers of 2014 so far:
By my rough count it looks like about 13 of those 20 are part of franchises -- though some of that may depend on what you consider a franchise. Let's look at the movies from 2013:
Again, rough count, I get at least 10 franchises, but with nearly all of the top dozen being franchises. Also, not shown is that movies 21 (Grown Ups 2), 22 (The Wolverine), 23 (Anchorman 2), 25 (GI Joe Retaliation) and 26 (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2) are all franchise movies.
So, uh, what possible factual basis
could Giovanetti have for claiming that piracy is killing
off movie franchises? Oh, because an actress in one movie said so. He links to this story
in the "Hollywood News" which also bemoans "pirates" putting "a nail into the coffin of another film franchise." But it's actually linking to yet another site, Digital Spy, which has an
interview with actress Chloe Moretz
who voices some frustration about "piracy" of her movie Kick-Ass 2
. In it, she notes:
“Sadly, I think I’m done with the character. Hit-Girl was a very cool character, but I don’t think there will be any more movies. You make these movies for the fanboys, but nowadays everyone seems to pirate them rather than watch them in the movie theatre. KICK-ASS 2 was one of the number one pirated movies of the year, but that doesn’t help us because we need box office figures. We need to prove to the distributors that we can make money from a third and fourth movie – but because it didn’t do so well, we can’t make another one. If you want more than one movie, everyone has to go and see movies at the cinema. It’s all about the the numbers in the theatre.”
Of course, that claim that it was "one of the number one pirated movies of the year" doesn't appear to be supported by the facts
. TorrentFreak, which regularly compiles such information, doesn't show it in the top 10 (though a number of other franchises are in there, including Fast & Furious, The Hobbit, Iron Man, Star Trek, The Hangover... and I've seen no indication that any of those movie franchises are going away due to "piracy.")
But still, Giovanetti insists it must be true, because clearly, Moretz must know (even though she was wrong about the one factual statement she made).
I have no doubt that, if one of the lead actors says piracy was a major factor, that's at least part of what she was told by the producers.
Cross-referencing this story with the recent episode where 2.2 million people watched a leaked, pirated version of The Expendables 3, it's clear that there is a significant harmful impact on movie production due to piracy.
Giovannetti insists that "defenders of piracy" and "Hollywood haters" (as if that's the same thing) will try to say that the real reason there won't be a Kick-Ass 3 is because Kick-Ass 2 was no good, but he refuses to accept that, because he hasn't seen either movie in the franchise. If only there were a way to actually determine if Kick-Ass 2 was any good... Oh wait... There's this wonderful thing called... Rotten Tomatoes:
So, on the one hand, we've got tons of data showing that Hollywood has been investing heavily
in franchise movies, and they're performing tremendously well, making ridiculous amounts of money the past few years, leading to ever more investment in them. On top of that, you've got pretty clear evidence that Kick Ass 2 just wasn't a good movie. So, the data here is pretty clear... but in the mind of the paid-for copyright maximalist, the "simplest" solution (supported by absolutely no data) must be that "piracy is killing movie franchises." Fascinating. Perhaps Giovanetti should rename his "think" tank to a "well, I kinda feel this way, and don't show me any actual data" tank.