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The Avengers: Why Pirates Failed To Prevent A Box Office Record (torrentfreak.com)
183 points by narad 1753 days ago | hide | past | web | 137 comments | favorite

A thing to note is that it was a CAM recording of the film that was leaked.

I have only ever watched one cam recording of a movie before. I think it was 'The Illusionist.' I was at a friends house, he slapped it on. The color saturation was wrong, the sound was like mono and the camera appeared slightly off so the very top or bottom of the screen was cut off. It wasn't completely unwatchable but it spoiled the movie. Its like watching a film through a neighbours window.. crap.

Piracy has far more effect on DVD sales. This is for 4 reasons. The price of DVD's, the inconvenience of going out and getting the DVD, the bullshit adverts and unskipable junk before the film and the menu which takes 20 seconds to display before you can press PLAY.

If there was a DVD quality recording of the avengers I think it would have easily had 5x more downloads, probably 10x. However, realistically the cinema is an experience. If you enjoy the cinema you are going to watch a film like this at the cinema - then maybe download it. I am firmly of the opinion that if you make a blockbuster film, whether it leaks or not it will do well.

Imagine how much money they could make if they released a 1080p HD version online, globally, 4 weeks at most after the launch in cinemas, and for a price of $5.

That may or may not kill the cinemas in the long term, depending on how hard they fight to become more competitive and unique compared to watching the movie at home, but it would definitely not hurt the studios and movie makers. If anything, they stand to make a lot more money on average for every released movie.

Interesting hypothetical.

Lets take a recent blockbuster. The first Twilight movie made $392,616,625 in the box office, $194,881,773 in DVD sales for a total of $587,498,398 (almost 600M - pretty good rake)

In your $5 they'd have to sell 117,499,679 of those $5 streams in order to make that equivalent revenue (so roughly one in every 60 people in the world need to buy a stream).

For more fun take the last Twilight Movie (Eclipse) which was a bigger draw ($826,423,724 total revenue). Then you'd have to sell 165M streams to get to those numbers.

Considering the $5 stream scenario could be shared across a family - I honestly am not sure your assumption that a studio could make more money is correct. The real X-Factor here is the cut the various distribution chains take.

I'm not sure your price point is right, but would you perhaps pay $20 for the same stream?

EDIT: Also I don't think the 4-weeks after theatrical release is going to work I don't think theaters are going to show your movie if you're going to kneecap them 4 weeks out.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twilight_Saga_(film_series)...

I think the grandparent post meant this as a replacement to DVD, not all sales. So you're replacing the 120M component of the total, not the total 500M. So we're talking closer to 40M people who feel the film is worth $5.

(Admittedly grandparent did acknowledge that this could affect the theater ruin, but to suggest it would supplant it is a bit much. Conversely let's consider some may sample it at $5 who may not have otherwise. The people who usually wait for rental or cable. Those people now have the opportunity to go see it in IMAX 3d or whatever.)

Why delay it at all? Frankly they shouldn't care how we want to watch a film, just that we want to and are willing to pay for it.

I like films but have small kids so I can't get to the cinema as often as I'd like. By not letting me give them money to watch their film (and I won't pirate it, I'll just do something else) they're throwing money away. Get me while the publicity and hype are out there, when I can discuss it with friends and colleagues. By the time it's out on DVD the moment could well have passed and my money has gone.

The cinema done right is a great experience and personally I don't think it's going anywhere. It doesn't matter how big my TV gets, I'll never have that social experience, the fact of getting out of the house where the phone won't ring and the door won't go, where I won't be tempted to pick up the iPad or whatever.

Watching at home, if done right, is a complementary market as much as it is a competitive one. And if it is competitive one then hey, what do they care if they're charging for it?

It's not going to be $5, probably more like $20 (think a couple of people, a couple of tickets equivalent, perhaps figure in the fact they can't upsell you popcorn and subtract some lower costs), but so long as the price seems fair next to the multiplex cost I'm fine with it.

Why delay it at all? Frankly they shouldn't care how we want to watch a film, just that we want to and are willing to pay for it.

If you watch the latest blockbuster on the day of release at home on your mega projector that you bought with all the money you saved by not going to the cinema, with your wife, your three kids, and your neighbours (5 more people), you pay for just one stream/ticket.

If all those people go to the cinema, they pay for 10 tickets.

That's a good rationale for why they care, imho.

A few people will do this but most won't. The fact a few people game a system rarely stops a business model. It doesn't have to work in every specific instance, just overall.

Actually I think most would - perhaps not at a 10x multiple, but at least 2-3x, maybe 5x. If I were to download a brand new movie that just came out today I would definitely watch it with at least my girlfriend, but possibly invite a few friends around for a movie night. Or some friends would invite me (I hope!).

I would end up watching a lot more movies, but providing much less income to the movie industry for each.

As I said in the original post, you wouldn't charge at a single ticket rate, you'd price it based on what worked. My assumption would be that most people would watch with maybe one other person and that the price would reflect that.

As I also said they lose the ability to up sell you highly profitable popcorn, you lose travel costs, the lose some overheads (but gain others) - there are a whole bunch of things to figure in. The release day cost of a movie rental wouldn't be a single cinema ticket price and it certainly wouldn't be a current rental cost. Off the top of my head I think you'd be looking somewhere around two to three times average cinema ticket prices, possibly varying by time (weekend evenings might cost more).

The last sentence is a good thing for them though not a bad one. If you watch 3 movies a week instead of one and pay on average $5 instead of $10, they've still got $15 instead of $10. Their costs will likely only be marginally higher with three movies vs. one (most of it being the infrastructure) which means that their overall profit is likely up.

You don't optimise a business for revenue, you optimise it for profit.

When I imagine that much money, I imagine it is much less than what they make now. That's the nature of a disrupted industry.

Sell it the same day as release, as well as DVD and Blu-Ray copies. The home and theater versions then become effective cross-promotions for the other, plus you hit the market at the peak of your advertising campaign. Nobody's had the guts to try this sort of thing though.

The theaters and PPV outlets would never agree to that. It eats into the post-opening-week time where the theater gets the bulk of the ticket price.

720p or 480p would be more realistic; the bandwidth costs for serving 1080p would chew through that $5 pretty quickly. (Assuming reasonable video bitrates) Besides, a very large chunk of consumers own machines that cannot handle 1080p.

Before you scream bloody murder, remember DVDs are only 480p.

CrunchyRoll offers unlimited 1080p streaming for a $7 monthly subscription.

Let's assume that a 1080p movie encoded for streaming using H.264 ends up at 8GB (a generous overestimate for most movies). At entry-level datacenter pricing of $0.10/GB, bandwidth costs will leave $4.20 for the rest of the supply chain.

$0.10/GB is way more than market rates for bandwidth. Dedicated server hosters such as 100TB.com charge about $200 for 100TB, ie. $2/TB or 0.2 cents /GB, resulting in a grand total of 1.6 cents for a 8GB movie stream.

For 5~6€, Zune on XBox 360 streams movies at 1080p while iTunes/Apple TV streams 720p and soon 1080p (or is that the case already?).

Then you would see complaints from retailers on DVD sales declining.

I think that's a reality that DVD retailers need to embrace sooner rather than later.

They've already embraced it. Major retailers devote much less floor space to DVD than they did in the past. The entire industry is well aware DVD is on the downslope.

I wonder what would have happened if it had been a leaked screener instead of a CAM recording. I'd never choose a CAM over going to the cinema, but a screener might change my choice.

Also for a movie like Avengers, which relies a lot on special visual and sound effects for its success, its easier to get such box office returns. But if same thing happens to a movie like Carnage[1], then it might be affect its returns drastically.

Carnage - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1692486/

From your train of thought (starting with cam quality) I suspect you had it in mind, but you forgot the biggest reason in your list:

> Piracy has far more effect on DVD sales. This is for 4 reasons. The price of DVD's, the inconvenience of going out and getting the DVD, the bullshit adverts and unskipable junk before the film and the menu which takes 20 seconds to display before you can press PLAY.

You forgot to mention your main point about quality! The moment the DVD is released, the DVD is available to pirates for their dvdrips.

whereas you don't get a copy of the theater reel to play with just by buying a theater ticket, leading to the cam-rips you referred to. so, purely for that reason given that pirates distribute high-quality rips once they're available, you would expect this effect on DVD-sales to figure prominently in your list. (I'm sure you had it in mind but just forgot).

"If you enjoy the cinema you are going to watch a film like this at the cinema"

If you enjoy 'cinema' you would probably rather pluck your eyes out than watch a film like this anywhere in anyway

To each their own. I enjoy a large assortment of films. The Avengers and Batman Begins - or 12 Monkeys and The Usual Suspects - or The Triplettes of Bellville and The Lives of Others - or 12 Angry Men and The Seventh Seal. Hardly fair to say that someone who would 'enjoy' 'cinema' would 'rather pluck their eyes out' than 'watch' a 'film' like this 'anywhere'.

Interestingly, you used the term 'Film' to describe The Avengers, which some people would jump down YOUR throat for - since this was an almost All-Digital release.

Avengers was shot on Alexa at 2K resolution. It's digital through and through, though there's a few 35mm prints screening out there.

I saw some clamoring to see it on 35mm, which is a little ridiculous in this case.

I think it's going to be a while until even the most pretentiousness arts majors talk about how "they just adore bytes"

Will movie directors shout "fclose()" at the end of scene I wonder?

Torrentfreak's articles seem to get better and better. They note the ways in which piracy is hurting films (foreign sales) and show some numbers indicating that in the US it doesn't appear to be hurting sales much at all. While obviously torrentfreak can't ever be considered objective in regards to piracy, they seem to be getting closer each time.

Back on topic then, Does anyone have the background necessary to know if someone (anyone) is working towards disrupting the complicated publishing mess that keeps films from being available overseas for so long.

I am perplexed by your comment about overseas release dates. There has been an absolutely massive compression in release dates in the past 5 years. Most obvious blockbusters are now globally released, and the spread for smaller films has also been contracting.

Avengers was released overseas prior to the US release. A film like The Descendants was released 4 weeks early in NY/LA, and then foreign releases were only 6 weeks after the US release. That is insanely fast for a movie that could potentially have never made it out of NY/LA.

This only involves the top blockbusters. For most other US produced movies the waiting time for releases can easily be well over 6 months.

Besides, 6 weeks is still a long time in the age of instant global communication. Basically, all the hype and buzz surrounding a film starts well before the release and dramatically drops a week after. After a month, people have pretty much forgotten about it.

This hurts sales even without piracy, because the artificially created urgency (why do you thing so many people go see a movie in the opening week?) has gone.

There is no alternative for simultaneous release that doesn't hurt sales, piracy or not.

I agree that simultaneous releases are best for sales, but that ignores reality. Lets assume 400 movies are screened per year in NY/LA, 200 widely in the US, and 125 in foreign theaters. It is simply not possible for all 400 movies to have a simultaneous global release. Theater owners must take a "wait and see" approach for many films.

I also don't agree with your 6 month figure, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong. Release dates are widely published. Comedies tend to have the slowest rollout because it takes time to prove that the humor translates well. Even with comedies, I can't find anything where the wide US release is 6 months before foreign releases.

It is simply not possible for all 400 movies to have a simultaneous global release. Theater owners must take a "wait and see" approach for many films.

Who cares about theaters?

I haven't been in a movie theater in 5 years - it just doesn't appeal to me at all. And I know for a fact that many of my friends who used to be cinema-buffs don't care much anymore either.

We prefer to watch films in our home-cinemas now, on a big flatscreen or beamer.

Consequently we use the first release in watchable quality that we can get. And often that's from PirateBay. Not because we'd be unwilling to pay $9.99 for a HD movie on iTunes, but simply because most movies appear 6 months earlier on the torrents.

If iTunes launched in parallel with the theaters we would buy all movies.

You're right. I'm from germany and haven't been in a theater for years but I own a beamer. Additionally going to a theater would involve driving about 50 km just to get there as I live in a rural area. Furthermore I prefer to watch movies in their original language (well, as long as it is english).

I wish movie distribution was up to the standards we expect when buying music these days. Ditch DRM, just offer me the files and let me re-download them at any time via my account. Streaming is an option but for me bandwith is limited (speed, not volume) while harddisk space is cheap. Plus XBMC + Apple TV + NAS lets me build up my own film archive.

unfortunately and in contrast to the process of buying music we aren't there yet with movies.

> I haven't been in a movie theater in 5 years - it just doesn't appeal to me at all. And I know for a fact that many of my friends who used to be cinema-buffs don't care much anymore either.

I have a decent home-cinema system too (projector and all) but I still go and watch movies. The screen is so much bigger and brighter in theaters, it's not really the same experience. However, sound-wise, I agree a good home cinema system is unbeatable. You can sit right in the center, at the sweet spot to get all the effects right, something you cannot achieve often in theaters.

> I haven't been in a movie theater in 5 years - it just doesn't appeal to me at all.

Luxury theatres are appearing. My small hometown (population something like 90,000) has one - big comfy seats, nice screens, good sound, lack of idiot customers, to-the-seat food and drink service.


> If iTunes launched in parallel with the theaters we would buy all movies.

If iTunes launched in parallel with the theaters, the PirateBay would have a pristine copy of all movies in the theaters. If you were a movie maker or a distributor, is something that you would do given the current marketplace? That strikes me as bat-shit crazy.

That being said, I think it would be best if the top 100 films had a global release, and were all available on iTunes globally 10-14 weeks later. Hollywood is forced to compete with the PirateBay. At some point, they are going to have to start selling on iTunes as soon as the pirates get a quality copy.

I personally love going to the movies, and frankly I think it is a bargain. I spend about $200/year on movie tickets and enjoy it most of the time, and I spend about $1000/year on broadway shows and fucking hate it the majority of the time. There is nothing that gives me the creeps more than when someone breaks into song for no apparent reason. I do love comedy clubs, and $5 admission plus two overpriced drinks is the best deal around.

When I have kids and move to the suburbs, my perspective will likely be identical to yours. I fully understand your perspective, and a I think hollywood would be well served to cater to the future myself.

> and I spend about $1000/year on broadway shows and fucking hate it the majority of the time.

Why go if you hate it so much?

Family, friends, and guests. It is a reasonable price to pay relative to the reward.

Movies like the saw series seemed to do this fine, opened pretty much everywhere one the same day. Sure not every movie can get the same limited screen space, but the big movies that are getting the most online downloads probably can.

Japan still lags behind the US for most big-ticket films. Avengers won't open here until 2012/08/17, more than three months after the US release date. [1] That's a month ahead of the projected blu-ray release of the film though.

It's really hit and miss, but most of the more major films lag by two to three months.

1 - http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%A2%E3%83%99%E3%83%B3%E3%...

Japan probably has one of the lowest piracy rates, so they don't seem to be forced to release earlier there. Japan's own media is even more backwards, most of their media never gets international releases although there is a big fansub scene. They don't seem to need the money.

> They don't seem to need the money.

Oh no, they DO need the money, believe me. Most of their productions take years to just break even, and some never do. The reason why they are not actively pursuing international releases is linked to the way Japanese do business. Most of these media companies are very traditional and do not understand the opportunities outside of Japan. And even if they did, they'd need to get the approval of an old 社長 to proceed with such plans. This happens very rarely. They are missing a huge market.

I know. That sentence was of course sarcastic ;). It's a shame too, because a lot of their media has that special charm and its artistic value is sometimes quite high IMO (especially in the anime department).

Fansubs (japanese subtitles) of foreign movie releases? Where is this scene? I can't watch an english language movie with Japanese friends until the J release without J subtitles.

I meant the other way around: Japanese media with english subtitles. For tv series / animes have a look at dramacrazy.net; If you want western movies with Japanese subs I recommend iTunes with a Japanese account or Tsutaya if you are staying in Japan (maybe Hulu has also some stuff by now).

Wow, that is crazy. I am really shocked that I got to watch it sooner in China than you did in Japan. I wonder why there is such a difference between the two countries...

> Most obvious blockbusters are now globally released

Not true. Avengers is not even out in Japan yet. It wont be out until later summer (August). I can't believe they are delaying it for so long. And Japan is a BIG market for movies.

Japan is a unique market for movies. No good dubbing studios, a flaky box office, and weird taste in movies. Since you live there, and seem to have a good handle on English, I suggest you just pirate the movies and watch them in English. Japan is the exception to all my comments.

-- no good dubbing studio.

GOD you are damn right on this one. Dubbing studios in Japan are just horrible. Honestly i dont understand how Japan can both have excellent voice over studios for animation and extremely bad ones for western movies. There s something deeply wrong going on there.

For some movies i dont mind doing what you recommend, but for avengers theres no way i will settle with watching it at home. The same thing happened with Drive last year (its only out NOW in Japan) and that really pisses me off.

I'd also add that the language barrier and the fact that torrenting isn't as popular as other countries makes it easier for Hollywood to rely on traditional box office and DVD sales in Japan. That and the fact that they probably have a lot of binding distribution deals with the big dubbing/distribution houses.

I'm taking that info from the article. It was proposed as one of the reasons that piracy over seas is so prolific.

This is true. I was in the Philippines when Avatar was released, and it was the same day as the US release. It used to be that you could see a new movie in the US and travel to SE Asia the next day and by the time you got there nobody would have seen it for weeks or months after.

I certainly do not qualify for "have the background" but I do have some information. One part is cost of reproduction; it's rumored to cost $1,500 for each reproduced film reel set. The current work (that I know about) is the move towards digital distribution.


Another part is translation. Though language barriers have been decreasing during the last two decades, they still exist, and most people prefer to watch movies in their native language, or at least have subtitles in a language they know well.

Various "fan groups" release subtitled versions of their favorite anime, and at least to some degree, this addresses the time delay of translation. More importantly, the entertainment industry has been slowly learning from the fan subbing groups. A good example would be the partnership between entertainment companies (read: investors) and groups like CrunchyRoll which does and distributes officially sanctioned, subtitled (re)releases a short time after the programs have originally aired.


Though the former could easily be considered just cost cutting, the latter is undoubtedly due to pressure from alternate distribution channels.

My local indie theater recently ran a substantial (for them) fundraising campaign to upgrade to digital. They claimed that within a year or two, the major studios were going digital only and any theater without digital would be completely shut out. I didn't verify this, but I have no reason to doubt them.

Kevin Smith just mentioned this on reddit today as well.

"I like both, but it doesn't matter what I think, as the last 35mm film camera rolled off the assembly line months back and most studios are ceasing print distribution altogether: first overseas, then domestically."


DCP is de facto standard for a few years now. It is pretty rare to see 35mm copies around except on festivals. It is even rare to see film cameras on set, even on commercials which are usually ripe with, what would one call, 'hipsters'.

Fox just announced officially that they will cease all 35mm print distribution within 2 years.

As a film geek, this news saddens me so much....

Well, the pirates are 'disrupting' it rather effectively.

But through more official channels, there's not much which can be done until rights-holders wise up. They have been and remain the core bottleneck.

The change will come through digital distribution of the movies to cinemas, instead of the physical reel method that has been used since movies were first shown in cinemas.

The main reasons these movies take so long to distribute outside of North America has been because of local content & distribution rules for movies, risk assessment for success from distributors and, importantly, studios not wanting to spend extra money on new or extra reels when they can just use those from North America after a few months in overseas markets.

> Torrentfreak's articles seem to get better and better.

I disagree. They're intensely biased, they select only information that suits their agenda and they spin reports and statistics shamelessly.

That's not to say that they're entirely worthless as a news source but they do have to be treated as a mouthpiece.

Unlike, say, the MPAA and the mainstream entertainment-media industrial complex comprising it.

Sometimes triangulation between propaganda artists points you at the truth. Or at least illuminates what each side prefers you not see.

Claiming a camcorded copy of a movie seriously impacts box office attendance is the same as arguing that concert bootlegs stop people from seeing artists on stage

The direct impact of cam releases might very well be negligible. The bigger problem for the studios is that if word gets out that a blockbuster movie fails the expectations of its potential audience. That probability is much higher if there are CAMs available before the theatrical release.

So, to minimize losses caused by piracy, make your movie not suck.

> So, to minimize losses caused by piracy, make your movie not suck.

Yes, but it doesn't work exactly like that. s/not suck/profitable.

This just means that instead of taking chances on a film which is a big risk (think Inception), we will simply see more and more super hero movies and more and more sequels. There is much less of a margin of error when people are downloading things.

I think there's little or no room for a "Requiem for a Dream" type of film in the coming years. Maybe kickstarter will have to be the avenue to make movies like that.

Inception wasn't that big a risk. Nolan had proved he could do ideas (Memento), he'd proved he could do big budget (two Batman films) and he was willing to stick major stars in it (including arguably the biggest star on the planet). They then backed that up with a $100m advertising budget.

In many ways it was an art house sci-fi film but in many others it did everything by the book for a big budget movie (proven track record, stars, special effects and action then hype it to the hilt).

You're right that the pattern is towards the more conservative but I'm not sure that Inception was a massively out there move.

Requiem for a Dream is a completely different beast and shows the other way you can do it even now. That was a cheap film - £5m or so. Adjust for inflation and you get maybe double that, which is still less than 5% of the budget of the Avengers.

That sort of film can be funded by smaller production companies, by larger studios (often as vanity / credibility projects - Schindler's List was seen that way when it was signed off though I doubt the studio will admit that now) and in a host of other ways. I can certainly see large studios funding things like that almost as part of an incubator model - giving new directors who seem promising a stage to show what they can do before they let them loose on something larger.

Inception was hardly a 'risky' movie, plenty of explosions, cool visuals, and a simple but slightly ambiguous plot. Think of the way 'total recall' ends, is this just the vacation he had paid for? If you think about it they are fairly similar movies, and fairly well liked. If anything, I think suggests that a good movie can also have mass appeal.

WALL-E lacks dialog for 1/2 the movie, but because Pixar could test it out ahead of time they knew it was worth making vary early in the process. Pixar's string of hits has a lot to do with constant refinement and feedback. Saying Hollywood needs to put out more Toy Story 3's is not a terrible thing when their done well. There is something to be said for the old script + 6 weeks of frantic shooting + cutting room floor style of movies, but it's a style that showed up when film was expensive and budgets where tight.

This was, sadly, a problem long before piracy came along. Hollywood is a famously conservative industry.

I agree. If the movie industry focused more on making great movies I would generally assume that CAMs wouldn't be an issue like they seem. In another sense I do believe bootlegs do give consumers a preview if the movie is worth seeing the theatrical release. I did watch The Avengers in the theaters and I can say I personally believe it was well worth my dollar.

Or alternativly, piracy will reduce spend on a crappy film, and people will spend the money elsewhere in the economy, and not waste it on something they won't like. Piracy of crappy films makes The Market better.

Indeed. If you make something excellent people will crawl over broken glass to give you money. Kickstarter is perhaps the best example of that principle.

Exactly, when you look at the list of biggest sales you realize that the list is pretty much the same for pirated movies.

The bigger problem for the studios is that if word gets out that a blockbuster movie fails the expectations of its potential audience.

Surely advance screenings and reviews have exactly the same effect in that case.

Word of mouth from your fellow franchise fans might have a bigger influence than Roger Ebert dissing the movie.

Also, there's such a thing as a review embargo. It would be interesting to see how review embargos correlate with box office success and after-the-fact ratings.

The embargoes only run until a week or so before release - ultimately they want them discussed remember, that's just about trying to focus the publicity into a short period before release.

If the studios think they have a real turkey on their hands (and they'll know this before the critics see it - the focus groups will have told them if they didn't know just by watching themselves) they tend to drop all press screenings.

But you're right that word of mouth will often be more significant than a review. Blockbuster type films tend to be completely critic proof - the reviewers can savage them as much as they like and there's little impact - but if a couple of friend's whose opinions you trust tell you a film sucks there's a good chance you'll steer clear.

People usually trust word from family and friends for things like that

Similar. Not having advance screenings is an even bigger red flag.

For me it usually comes down to the 'is it worth it?' Avengers was worth it - you knew it was going to be great in 3D, explosions, cinema sound, Iron Man, etc. Whilst I begrudged paying £16 (~$26 US) for me and the girlfriend (before even thinking about drinks / popcorn) we were always going to see it in the cinema.

Compare that to a film that doesn't excite me (or most of the general population), and all of a sudden I'd rather wait for the movie on Netflix or whatever, because then £16 is better spent on a takeaway and watching from home.

I know films are different strokes for different folks, but the cinema is really overpriced if you're in the 'shall we / shan't we' category, so I can understand people just thinking - I'll pirate it and save the money (or spend it on dinner) and watch from the comfort of my home - the risk to reward is so much lower.

I'm not saying that's right - just with the cost as it is you need a great (or mass appeal) product to get bums on seats. Or you have lower the cost in cinemas and make going to the cinema the experience ("we can choose a film when we get there") rather than people just going to see something in particular.

EDIT: Regardless, great article on TF ;-)

> you knew it was going to be great in 3D

Quick off-topic question. Is the 3d version worth it here? Usually most 3d films is 3d just because, but make no real good use of it. But being 3d just adds an extra unnecessary eye strain.

This is why I watched the Avengers on 2d. But is this one of those rare movies (like avatar) where the 3d version is actually better? If so, I might go back and watch it again.

I saw it in 3D yesterday (begrudgingly, as I hate 3D, but the theater I went to only showed it in 3D). The 3D is used to pretty good effect for the most part (ie: it's not 20 minutes of normal footage and then a gratuitous 3D shot of something being waved at you), and I found that about an hour into the movie, I didn't notice it.

What I thought was odd was that there were things in 3D that were just part of the background (like there was literally a scene or two where the railing on a walkway was jutting out in 3D).

If you've already seen it in 2D, I really don't think you missed out; but if you liked the movie (and I thought it was very very good) and were going to see it again anyway, the 3D doesn't ruin the experience.

I love 3D, but with Avengers the 3D actively hurts the experience in places, and adds little.

It's a post-conversion- it was shot 2D and 3D added in post. This almost always results in useless 3D at best.

Um, to be honest, if you saw it in 2D I wouldn't bother going again. FWIW, I enjoy a 3D movie but I don't think anything here was ground breaking or epic. There were a couple of good 'that piece of whatever is coming straight at me' moments, but nothing major.

That said, if you're a fan of 3D, haven't seen it and are deciding whether to see it in 3D or 2D, I'd still recommend it with the silly glasses.

I also watched on 2D because 3D movies give me headaches, but several friends told me that the 3D stuff there is almost avatar-like good. I am tempted to watch it again.

As far as I know, to date only 2 films have actually been filmed in 3D, Avatar and Sanctum. Which is probably why the 3D is done well.

> Whilst I begrudged paying £16 (~$26 US) for me and the girlfriend

Does this mean that you only had to pay $13 per person? In Sweden, a single ticket sells for $20.

Cost of living in the Nordic countries is very high.

Here are the prices for tonight in a large mall-cinema in West London:

2D: http://booking.myvue.com/Home/My-tickets/cinema/westfield/ui...

(£8.90/£7.50 adult/student)

3D: http://booking.myvue.com/Home/My-tickets/cinema/westfield/ui...

(£12.05/£9.80 adult/student)

It does, yeah (although doesn't include the price of 3D glasses). This was at an out of London cinema, thankfully. In the center of town you can easily pay $20+ pp.

Are you paying that right across Sweden? If so, how awful :-(

$20/£12.20 was for the 3D version (where you can borrow glasses - do you have to buy yours?). I checked, and in smaller towns the price seems to be $17.50. The 2D version (which isn't available everywhere) is only $16/£10. That's actually not much more expensive than the UWest London prices reported by mseebach.

Glasses cost about 80p per person. You also pay extra for the privilege of seeing something in 3D, but prices for everything are generally cheaper outside of London.

that there is a detrimental effect on international box office figures. The researchers attribute this impact to the wide release gaps

Damn right. It makes sense that if you release a film in Europe 6 months after the USA that there will be more piracy in Europe. Why should we have to wait? There is a simple solution: Release films at the same time/day. This is an example of piracy making things better for the consumer, and this sort of market-correcting piracy should be encouraged.

There's actually logistical reasons why that's potentially difficult, (having actors show up at premiers for example).

I think considering that "overseas piracy" is the big stated concern for Hollywood (less people downloading cam-rips, more people selling DVD's on corners), their strategy of actually launching the movie outside the U.S. first made sense.

I suspect we'll see more of that for tent-pole type films.

I doubt there's a single soul outside the film industry who gives the slightest damn about whether the actors are at the first showing of a film in their country/continent/whatever.

Actors attending local premieres -> local press coverage -> increased local buzz -> increases ticket sales. It does help.

Maybe the actors visit a few of the largest markets. But they aren't going to go on a year-long press-junket for the premieres everywhere, regardless of how much of a delay there is. They are working on the next film. [edit: I wonder if this might be why so many movie-release events in Tokyo feature B-grade local celebrities as the spokesperson for the film. None of the actors could be bothered to fly over].

Why not just have ONE worldwide premiere, and journalists from various countries can cover that single meaningful event?

Japan is a huge market for international film releases, so some of the actors do show up once in a while, but not often and certainly not for most movies.

There are popular television shows that cover all the current Hollywood releases of the week, including those without any scheduled local release date. Lack of media attention is not the problem.

Inertia, fear of change, and localism (who cares about the rest of the world?) is the problem, but it is slowly but surely getting better.

Makes sense. However the film studio and the public have different interests, film studio want delayed releases, public want same releases. Now the public have the option of piracy. It's up to the film studios to run the numbers and decide if the boost from a delayed sale is worth the loss from piracy.

The world has changed. Film studios (or candle markers) do no have a right to continue to make money the same way. They can adapt or die.

"The world has changed. Film studios (or candle markers) do no have a right to continue to make money the same way. They can adapt or die."

Interesting comparison. My favourite is "weavers":


Or people who manufactor VHS tapes, or shops that develop photographs, or people who repair record players, or people who sell records, or people who make horse draw carriage parts, etc. etc.

I didn't even know actors did that. That can't be the cause of delayed showings.

It's a hangover from the 'old days' where those lower down the release date list got 'hand me down' film reels.

Reels are one of the last major costs for film distributors, and even in the face of piracy they would rather cut costs there, than put there risk onto their own shoulders and produce more reels. They are scared of being stuck with a flop movie, and many theatres in the UK and elsewhere outside of the USofA won't commit to buying reels without seeing USA box-office turnout first. The delay is here, and until we have digital projecting, I'm not sure how it will be solved

What year is this? I was sure the world had long since moved on to entirely digital projection. I for one can't remember the last time I saw the "end-of-reel" spots on a movie in the cinema.

Are reel projectors actually widely used still?

Yes reel projectors are still used - even at some multiplexes. The reason there are no end of reel dots is that the changeover is now electronic and is coded into the sound track but most places now have full film reels and single projectors anyway to reduce the staffing requirements so there is no changeover.

until we have digital projecting, I'm not sure how it will be solved

Digital projectors exist. Physical reels are unnecessary. The general public does not care that it's expensive for you, we want to watch films now. Cinemas of the world: Adapt or die.

If I may play Devil's Advocate. I can understand why Distributors, movie companies, etc go so far in pushing anti piracy. Not necessarily just because of the fact that it hurts profits (although by a minor fraction), but also because it's only logical to do so. If movie companies were to one day come out and say that they are ok with people pirating their movies, who's to say that it won't increase the number of people attempting to pirate the movies since you would not be punished. In this case the act of making pirating taboo and portraying it as anti social behavior helps in minimizing the acceptance that pirating is OK by mass advertising(Although this technique may not effective, but I haven't read enough to get a sense that it doesn't work). Although they take extreme measures, it's that fear of getting caught that helps in maintaining their profits which make their share holders happy.

I'm pretty sure I know exactly when the film companies will abandon the current business model for movies (theatres plus DVDs) and switch primarily to online pay-per-view-like scheme, with DVDs going out pretty much immediately and theatres surviving, but slowly fading.

It will happen as soon as the first studio realizes and takes advantage of the fact that with such a scheme you a) can charge for the same movie over and over again, and b) you can greatly improve the feedback on how popular which movies are, which could use an update/sequel and which should be left to die. This is something we in the Web business take for granted, but in the movies they are still too ingrained in the old ways that they don't see the benefits and effects of online distribution. But they will, mind you; not all at once, but as soon as it proves itself they'll jump on the bandwagon.

The people that should be scared by piracy are those that aren't making really high quality, possible cult films. If you're making the next Jennifer Aniston movie, which replicates tens of others then people won't be motivated to go to the cinema, some may pirate it and others may buy it on DVD just for something to watch but you can't dedicate a huge following to go watch it in the cinema.

The Avengers got people to go in mass groups and those people told other friends to watch it.

That's the industry's real concern - that the majority of nice people will pirate movies.

As long as it's a few kids downloading copies of the latest blockbuster they aren't too worried - these people are guaranteed to go to see every blockbuster anyway - and will go with large numbers of their friends - and go multiple times. That's why the piracy of this kind of movie doesn't hurt US ticket sales.

But when nice respectable couples decide to download the movie rather than making the trip out, paying babysitters, etc then the industry has to worry. All it's nice middle of the road mid budget movies that it can't pay for with fast food tie-ins or theme park rides and had to rely on DVD sales for.

I'll be honest, I downloaded the CAM version and it was crap to me, and someone had mentioned it was a great movie, so I went to the theater to see it because I didn't want to miss out.

I think the guy who released that CAM might have been doing the movie studio a favor because it might have made the next guy feel like he didn't need to do his own upload which might have been better.

If there was a good version available when I went to pirate it, I wouldn't have dragged myself to the theater.

I wanted to buy a large popcorn and soda with my cash when I got in there, but I only had $12 so I had to put it on the card.

I just wish they would release stuff on Amazon or iTunes (although I hate that program) the same day as it comes out.

Anyway, I spend way too much money on Amazon videos.


A cam'd version of The Avengers is not a market substitute for seeing the movie in a theater. Of the movies you could possibly consider this way, The Avengers is among the least amenable to substitution via cam'd copies.

All the widely-available torrents of The Avengers are cam'd or equivalent. There aren't screeners circulating.

A DVD rip is a near-perfect substitute for a DVD (or a streamed version of the movie, or whatever).

Nearly 50% of the revenue from motion pictures happens after the theater release, most of it DVDs.

Think what you want to think about torrenting movies, but it should bother you when sites like Torrentfreak insult your intelligence.

I don't think you read the entire article, which explained everything you said here quite clearly.

Entire article? He didn't even read the bold teaser, evidently. That was, indeed, the entire point of the article.

There are a few sites that tptacek will insta-contrarian on HN. Torrentfreak is one of them. You know the xkcd comic about someone is wrong on the internet? Substitute "being wrong" for "generating rageviews with libertarian nerds" and that is tptacek.

"Despite the widespread availability of pirated releases, The Avengers just scored a record-breaking $200 million opening weekend at the box office. While some are baffled to see that piracy failed to crush the movie’s profits, it’s really not that surprising. Claiming a camcorded copy of a movie seriously impacts box office attendance is the same as arguing that concert bootlegs stop people from seeing artists on stage."

I read the entire article; my point is that it doesn't say anything. Did anyone think Avengers cams were what Hollywood is truly concerned about with BitTorrent?

It says that cam recordings are not a big deal. Hollywood claims they are a big deal. This has nothing to do with concerns about BitTorrent - you've introduced a straw man. An article about what they are doing to "combat cam recordings" is linked[1]. This includes sending people to jail for capturing a few seconds on their cell phone[2][3].




> Did anyone think Avengers cams were what Hollywood is truly concerned about with BitTorrent?

They use night vision goggles & special cameras to locate people recording movies, and charge people with serious federal crimes for the act (the kind where you can get 3 years in prison) via a law enacted in 2005 [1]. Those huge, ugly brown spots you see flash on the screen? They exist to track cam pirates. They can also use audio distortions to pinpoint the exact seat the person is in to help them further narrow down the suspects.

Hollywood has a very odd way of showing a lack of true concern about cams.

[1] FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT AND COPYRIGHT ACT OF 2005 - http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/pl109-9.html

I'm really curious about the technology behind the brown spots and the audio distortions. Can you cite your source for this stuff so I can read up on it?

TorrentFreak has articles on the tech itself, but they don't go into a lot of detail. I suspect the exact workings are secret.

EDIT: Link = https://torrentfreak.com/movie-spy-cameras-attack-the-dying-...

I can hold these two thoughts in my head at the same time: (a) that camcording movies for later release on the Internet is illegal and antagonizes theaters, and (b) that camcording movies is not a real threat the movie industry, but other (more popular) forms of file sharing clearly are.

The way you wrote it made it sound like the industry isn't really concerned about camming due to it not being a threat. My point was that the industry is highly concerned about it and goes to great lengths to fight it.

I can certainly agree with your A & B.

What I think is that if the whole of the file sharing problem was cam torrents, we wouldn't be seeing routine interventions like SOPA and mass lawsuits, because cam torrents aren't threatening. The film industry would certainly continue to do stupid things to react to stuff they don't understand, but it would happen at a slower pace and be easier to counter.

The problem, which this article conveniently ignores, is that the film industry is right about most file sharing: DVD rip torrents are a real threat.

The article ignores it because that is irrelevant to the discussion. Torrenting and DVDs and SOPA and all that are also irrelevant. You are pulling in random other issues related to copyright vs hollywood that the article is not about.

Hollywood says cams in movie theaters are a big problem. Article refutes this. The article isn't about anything else.

What should happen is that they adopt the Crunchyroll model and help their customers give them money. Sadly, it appears that they will be dragged into the future kicking & screaming.

Which sucks, because a lot of good artists are being held back by this.

That was, indeed, the entire point of the article.

What was the point of the article? I read it and came out of it completely perplexed. If I could summarize-

-Really terrible copies of something don't significantly impact the revenue of the something. OBVIOUSLY. Hence why Hollywood is going crazy trying to stop high quality copies (they want you nervously scurrowing in a corner of some dank cinema, fearful of the repercussions. Notice that there are no digital transfers or good quality rips available...piracy fail).

-Small numbers of people downloading something with wide appeal don't significantly impact the revenue of something. Hence why Hollywood needs to continue with lawsuit assaults and fear tactics and site takedowns to ensure that the number of people downloading remains small.

-Huge budget, highly anticipated, mega-marketed movies will do well regardless, so...um...

This piece could have been written by someone actively campaigning for draconian piracy laws. It literally promotes the anti-piracy campaigns.

I accidentally upvoted you, but the so-called "fatuous" claim you deride is the exact opposite of what the article is claiming. You would have known this had you clicked the link and read the third sentence.

My point is that nobody seriously thinks camcorded movies are what's killing the movie industry.

The most mind boggling thing I've seen big studios do is block some trailers, promo videos or music videos in countries other than the US/UK/Canada or whatever their main market is. Why in the world would you ever do that?

It makes absolutely no sense - they're blocking people in other countries from getting to know their new movie/single, which means those potential cinema goers and DVD/CD buyers either forget about it or go to torrent sites to get it, so when the movie/single is finally released, few people care about it.

One of the stupidest thing I've ever seen, for sure...

> "Why in the world would you ever do that?"

Because the distribution rights probably belong to someone else in said countries. It's the same reason why some songs are available on iTunes in the US but curiously missing elsewhere.

So why don't they push the distributors to release the stuff at the same time? It's their content, it's not the distributor who complains about piracy and lost sales, the studios can just kick them out if they're not making any sales... Besides, there are many countries where they have literally no presence whatsoever and it's like they're actively trying to prevent it from building up (unlike Microsoft, which just let people pirate their stuff, then came in and said "actually, you need to pay for that" - in reference to Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, where they successfully converted many companies and government agencies from pirates to paying customers)...

Nice post, he fails to mention that the camcorder version may have increased ticket sales. I know people who have watched a torrent of a movie to see if it was worth the $10 - $20 it costs to see it in the theater.

So of the 100,000 people who downloaded it, it would be interesting to poll how many went to see it after seeing that it was a decent movie.

I watched the CAM recording over the weekend(before this I had no desire at all to see the Avengers) and decided it was worth actually seeing in a theater. I think that's what a lot of people use CAM recordings for. To sample a movie before spending the money to see it in theaters.

> anti-camcording technologies [http://torrentfreak.com/movie-spy-cameras-attack-the-dying-a...]

This is largely off-topic but I was wondering if there are any other popular anti-camcording technologies?

Also could a large IR lamp facing the viewers (or aimed at screen) be used to disrupt the usage of camcorders? This will be additionally beneficial as a large part of the world requires heating solutions during significant part of the year.

At the avengers screening I saw at midnight, it was like an oven in the theatre. That's not the best idea with a room full of comic book nerds. In theory, as long as the lamp is as bright as the movie it would make the movies really dim for anybody recording it.

Didn't know that idea is already used, I was just throwing a possibility!

This doesn't make any sense at all. You could easily defeat such a countermeasure by putting an IR filter over your lens. Dunno about camcorders, but usually DSLRs have such filters built-in to prevent IR from contaminating the sensor's input.

"This means that roughly 100,000 Americans have downloaded a copy online through BitTorrent. Now, IF all these people bought a movie ticket instead then box office revenue would be just 0.5% higher."

Even though I agree with most points in this article, the 0.5% is a bit off. When a "pirate" (yarghh) decides to download a movie, they usually end up watching it with friends and/or family - not just by themselves..

Still, if you really care about a movie, you would watch it in a cinema instead of watching a bad "CAM" version.

The point is that the stated 0.5% is an upper bound, so even if none of them also bought a ticket, as you speculated (and I find it very unlikely that this is the case), they would still only make up a 0.5% difference in the box office revenue.

I believe pirating does affect ticket sales but really only for the lower budget/less anticipated movies. I tend to bucket all the movies I want to watch into 3 categories: go the movies, dollar theater, and download. The less I truly want to see the movie the lower down the bucket list it goes.

So yeah a movie like the Avengers which for me and probably most others will definitely be in the top bucket won't be affected much by pirating. Can't say the same for say Madagascar 3.

Even one lost customer to piracy justifies in the minds of RIAA/MPAA the spending millions on lobbying, creating draconian laws, and using the Government as their muscle.

Because Aardman stop-motion animation has a niche fanbase? :)

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