Nicolas Chartier is the CEO of Voltage Pictures, a very high-profile movie studio, thanks mainly to producing some critically acclaimed films like Hurt Locker
and Dallas Buyers Club
. For the past five years, Chartier has also been known as an over-the-top, somewhat ridiculous copyright troll
, thinking that it's smart to sue thousands of fans of his films. When this began, someone sent him a very polite email, explaining why he thought suing fans was a bad idea that might backfire, and Chartier responded by calling him a moron and a thief
. Chartier doesn't seem particularly thoughtful, but is very, very emotional about this stuff.
The Hollywood Reporter has a big interview with Chartier
where he continues to make ridiculous statements, often without any foundation, and also undermines Hollywood's carefully crafted narrative about how its fight against piracy is really about protecting the jobs of the little guys, the union workers who work on films. Creative Future
, the astroturf group set up by Hollywood to push for stronger copyright laws and to attack innovative services that threaten its obsolete business model, likes to trot out the "little guys" who work on movies, and highlights that it's a partnership between the studios and the unions. Yet, in the interview Chartier repeats his attacks on union works in Hollywood and points out that he films outside of the country to avoid paying them:
Bruce Willis makes a million a day, but we make the movie because of Bruce Willis. But at the same time, when I see a union driver sitting for 12 hours and being really difficult, that's why we end up shooting a lot of movies in foreign countries. People don't understand that without movie stars making big money, there's no movie. It's nice to victimize the big stars, but we need that because otherwise we don't make the movie. I don't make the movie because of the driver.
Yup, this is all about the rich getting richer, and Chartier apparently has no problem admitting that he'd screw over the everyday workers on films when he can. The fight over these things has never been about the everyday worker. They get paid their standard rate no matter what the film does. The issue is over the fat cats at the top. Also, that line about the movie only getting made because of the stars? Yeah, that's not exactly true either. As we've discussed in the past, there's no evidence that having a big name movie star helps a film
do any better. It's just because Hollywood is so sucked into this vortex of believing that a "name" makes a movie that it focuses on that. That isn't to say that good acting
isn't important. Great actors can make a real difference, but the idea that a big name is necessary to make a big film simply isn't supported by the evidence.
But Chartier isn't big on evidence or facts. He just makes up whatever he wants -- like his claim that the day after they announced plans to sue Hurt Locker
downloaders, people suddenly stopped downloading the movie:
And the day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits, the Internet downloads of Hurt Locker went down about 40 percent. So, you know, you frighten people and then they stop.
Yeah, that didn't happen. And, really, in this day and age, if you're still going to claim that every download is a lost sale, it suggests you haven't put much (if any) thought into what's going on:
Hurt Locker ended up winning six Oscars, but at the same time we had 8 million illegal downloads on the movie. And I was like, "Wow, you know, we barely reimbursed the movie and we had 8 million illegal downloads." Well, if everybody had given me one dollar, that would be 8 million dollars, and the movie cost 11, so we lost 80 percent of the movie to piracy. That cannot hold
Or, you know, there are people like me who didn't see the movie, but wanted to. And then you sued all those downloaders and it got crossed off the list of movies I would rent. Ditto for any other Voltage picture. To this day, I've never seen a single one of them, and I know I'm not the only person to do so. Those are true
"lost sales" because I absolutely intended to pay to see the movie. But now I won't. Unlike most of the people who downloaded who never would have paid. It's like Chartier doesn't even understand what battle he's really fighting.
He should be looking for ways to get more people to see movies. Instead, he's fighting ghosts: people who would never pay. It's not too different from his fight against the everyday people who work on his movies. He's pushing to keep down how much they pay while happily paying stars many millions. While he may have a knack for picking good movies, he doesn't seem to have much business sense, always fighting the wrong fight.