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Online Movie Piracy: Sorted, no problem

Friday 24 April 2009, 17:00

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine is one side of the coin, Brit indie horrorfest Mum and Dad another, and Monsters versus Aliens is yet another (because it's a 3d coin). But who is really to blame for online movie piracy? Allow me to explain...

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    Comment number 1.

    Thank god, someone has finally understood it. Dr K, you truly are an enlightened fellow.

    For years I have listened to the overinflated gasbags from within the industry harp on about their artistic integrity and how the cinema is the place they want people to see their movies (a point which fades away quickly when the movie makes double on DVD than it did on the big screen; mainly due to an insistence by studios to release every movie in at least 12 different formats and editions). I think for too long there has been a impression that I should be feeling blessed to be given the honour to see the latest Hollywood claptrap so I should just pay and sit with a feeling of awe that I am being allowed to view the movie on an approved format and time-scale.

    The real problem is that I can't see a studio willing to take the risk. I remember a few years ago there was a big clash when Fox released Night at the Museum on DVD 12 weeks after the cinema release which was a breach of a gentleman's agreement about the gap between releases. Most studios will be afraid of the multiplexes shunning them if they launched everywhere and they are still afraid of the stigma of a straight to DVD release (quite justified if you sat through the recent Resident Evil Degeneration DVD) so they just wont take the leap.

    The entire industry needs to change IMO. Cinemas need to be making their product worth the money they charge and studios need to be considering if they can afford to spend a few hundred million on a movie when they cannot count on repeat business (I read somewhere that about 60% of people who see a movie in the theatre will buy or rent it on DVD later).

    I personally love the idea (of mine) that those who see a film in cinemas should be able to send off their ticket to get a discount on the DVD or at least get it a week or 2 before everyone else straight from the distributor.

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    Comment number 2.

    I think in some ways (although they would never admit it) that studios like a level of internet pirating.

    Word of mouth has always been the greatest marketing tool for the industry and people who I know who download movies, movies that as Dr.K points out aren't recorded in the cinema but are in-house DVD screeners, tell the rest of their friends how good that movie is. That leads to people going to see it at the cinema or to buying it on DVD.

    In addition most of the people who I know who download movies tend to buy them on DVD when they come out anyway, that is if the movie was any good.

    So it all really comes down to the quality of the product. Make a good movie, we'll download it illegally, check it out, if its good we'll go and see it at the cinema with friends and buy it when it comes out on DVD. Make a movie as good as Wolverine and don't expect much in return.

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    Comment number 3.

    Well Well Mark, you certainly are putting your back into editing your blog videos now aren't you. Am i to expect these shown in 3D soon?
    You know the music industry has used the online downloading methods of getting hold of music to their advantage in tackling piracy (even if it isn't working), i think sooner or later this may happen for films too. Just imagine what would happen to the cinemas if this was to go forward, but now you mention piracy the thought seems so much more convincing...
    I know for a fact films are pirated at their earliest (in most cases) from cinema recordings, yet alot of the time they are leaked from the DVD production companies themselves (usually Russian / Asian copies). But at the end of the day we still don't know where many of them even come from, which goes to show just how well we are doing in this little battle. It seems only inevitable that it will take the route music is though.
    I have to admit though i am not too fussed about Wolverine being leaked. The issue itself is aggravating, i am expecting this certain title only to dilute such an incidents seriousness.
    I have to say too, i didn't like Mum and Dad that much really and thought in all the areas in which it was praised it had been overrated. It was certainly a respectable horror title, but is gaining a little cult status/underground fame as being somewhat of a shocker, yet i found it almost monotonous at times. The whole steal and torture routine seemed a little dreary, if not dire, and erased what good there was to come of this film for me. I don't know weather this was because i had watched many films like this beforehand (i was mid-horror marathon). i may re-watch it after being deadly disappointed with a film, like i WASN'T after Watchmen, and WAS with the god-awful Twilight. You don't have to be too much younger than yourself, Dr, to understand just what brings Twilight to the standard of Bride Wars for me... It is cinema's latest bombing by pop-cultures finest gold-digging, overly-contemporary and dreadfully pedestrian piece of garbage yet. I would of weeped at how uninspired and tedious it was if that was not what the film set out to do at times, such an act would of tortured my dignity beyond repair....

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    Comment number 4.

    hey dr. k! what's the deal with the zany editting? i hate it, don't do it again.

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    Comment number 5.

    Dr K,
    spot-on with the piracy comments; most pirate films are (like MannyCal says) awards screeners or DVD-rips - actual cam copies (or buttcam copies as they are also known, due to the fact that they look so bad there can only be one place the guy hid his camera) are only one part of the piratical picture.

    The distribution model that the studios operate for their films (including the artificial regional structure of DVDs) is designed for their benefit, not ours, so I can't say I have much sympathy for their 'predicament'.

    Plenty of pirate viewings are of films that people wouldn't pay to see in a cinema anyway - in many cases illegal downloading is the speeded-up equivalent of waiting for a film to come on TV. And no, I don't think that's an argument that's going to persuade a studio to change it's policy, but I would say it's an illustration of the fact that the film-viewing public isn't one amorphous passively consuming organo-blob, but a rather more complex and diverse beast.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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