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Movies Media Businesses The Almighty Buck

Record Box Office Indicates MPAA 'Piracy Problem' Hot Air 244

Kinescope writes "The motion picture industry has said that its profits are at risk due to piracy, but a record-setting 2007 box office has some wondering if the industry is crying 'wolf.' Last year, the US box office totaled $9.63 billion, a 5.4% increase over 2006. 'Piracy is so bad, according to the MPAA, that we need special legislation to target the dastardly college pirates who are destroying the business. It's so bad that Weekly Reader subscribers will learn about the $7 billion a year "lost" to Internet piracy. It's so bad that the MPAA wants ISPs to ignore years of common carrier law and the promises of "safe harbor" and start filtering their traffic, looking for copyright violations. The real world isn't quite this simple, of course. It turns out that the MPAA's college numbers were off by a factor of three, a revelation that came after years of hiding the study's methodology but continuing to lobby Congress with its numbers.'"
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Record Box Office Indicates MPAA 'Piracy Problem' Hot Air

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  • Old News, but ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PC and Sony Fanboy ( 1248258 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:31PM (#22656990) Journal
    When the governator (Arnold!) made a visit to canada to discuss this 'problem', there was new legislation that was made law within two months. That shows you the power of the governator (or perhaps, the power of american influence). The problem was that 'Canada was responsible for over half the pirated movies in north america'. The legislation enacted was almost EXACTLY what was requested by Gov. Schwarzenegger... and STILL they cry 'Blame Canada!'

    The only problem with it all ... is that it ISN'T actually a problem!
    • by Digi-John ( 692918 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:39PM (#22657112) Journal

      The legislation enacted was almost EXACTLY what was requested by Gov. Schwarzenegger... and STILL they cry 'Blame Canada!'

      It's the Canadians' fault, with their beady little eyes and flapping heads so full of lies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by billcopc ( 196330 )
      That shows you the power of the governator (or perhaps, the power of american influence)

      Nah, it just shows how big of a sellout Stephen Harper really is. As bizarre as it may sound, I'd rather have the old farts and their sponsorship scams than this Conservative pushover. I value freedom far far above tax cuts.
      • Completely true. I hate steve :) ... however, the point was the LIES of the **AAs ... canada, with the changes they wanted (through arnold) conceeded to their demands. And it changed NOTHING..
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by spyrochaete ( 707033 )
      I think it just goes to show what crooked pushovers the Conservative party is. Bev Oda spent tax dollars wining and dining her generous campaign contributors from the movie industry, Stephen Harper folded like an origami crane for Arnold by pushing through that ridiculous anti-camcording law in record time, and Jim Prentice continues to flip flop on his Canadian DMCA which is perhaps the most vocally contested bill in Canadian history.

      Maybe it's only incidental that these most recent, most egregious exa
  • summary wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:31PM (#22656992)
    Just a nitpick, but the summary says $9.63 million, when it is in fact billion

    Also, the box office figures don't correlate directly to lost profits, because the DVD industry is so big now, and I think that's where they're losing most of their money. Getting a copy that was taken by a video camera sucks compared to a movie; however, once a DVD comes out, you can download the same quality for free.
    • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Informative)

      by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:36PM (#22657072)
      Indeed. DVD sales in 2007 were down [] from 2006, and DVDs are where all the margin on motion pictures is. The theatrical distribution is really sortof a loss leader to promote the DVD and follow-on media, like DVD, television and video games (an industry which outstrips the film industry in revenues, I might add).
      • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sean Riordan ( 611520 ) <> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:43PM (#22657176)
        But how much of that decline is due to consumers sitting out the format fiasco, partaking of On Demand offerings, or doing the Netflix thing?
        • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Wandering Wombat ( 531833 ) <> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:57PM (#22657346) Homepage Journal
          Or, you know... only watching the good movies?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by alx5000 ( 896642 )
            If we ever were to watch only the good movies, they'd be out of business before you can say landschaftsarchitektonisches.
          • by dissy ( 172727 )

            Or, you know... only watching the good movies?
            I feel the need to inform slashdot that an entire 97%(*) of those figures come from people only watching the good movies.

            * Of course, I got that number from the same reports the MPAA used.

          • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:24PM (#22658648)
            Or, you know... only watching the good movies?

            How many "good" movies see a big theatrical box office?

            No Country For Old Men [] grossed $64 million in the U.S., Ratatouille [] $206 million.

            Both are fine films, but play to a very different audience.

          • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

            by kylehase ( 982334 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @11:38PM (#22659226)

            Right, so how can we actually tell if piracy is the problem?

            An economist would have to take many things into consideration:
            1. Total media sales and rentals (since pirates don't need to by or rent)
              • DVD
              • HD-DVD
              • Blu-Ray
              • Netflix
              • Blockbuster
              • iTunes
              • any others...
            2. Box office sales
            3. Quality of the movies
            4. New or rise in substitute goods
              • New game or game console
              • New fad (raves, swing etc)
              • Other substitutes...
            5. Prohibitively high ticket/media prices
            6. Boycotting movies in retaliation toward MPAA

            And if all these factors are measured in dollars then you'd also have to adjust for inflation and other price changes. Only after you've factored all these variables can you determine if the difference is due to piracy.

          • Good movies only? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by hachiman ( 68983 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:21AM (#22660950)
            Good lord! Were there such things in 2007?

            I am struggling to think of when I actually went to a cinema and saw a film and if so, what it was. I really cannot remember if I spent an inordinate amount of money getting in, then spent a small fortune getting a drink or sweets. Nope, still drawing a blank...

            DVDs however are another matter. Barely a week went by without some sort of hiring going on. It's far more comfortable and relaxing to curl up on the sofa with fiancee and a beer and relax.

            One point I will say is that during the Great Depression, movie audiences were also at a very large high. It was felt that the general population needed to escape from the reality of their lives for a short period of time and that movies provided that relief. With the way that the world is heading (rising oil prices etc), what is to say that people will also choose to spend a few hours a week safe in the womb of feel-good movies.

            Maybe Disney will see a new market here and make films with even more schmaltzy endings...
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )
              Yes, but you're also posting on Slashdot. Which puts you way out of the norm... people here don't go out and see movies because they're too busy raiding with their Warcraft guild, or spending 40 hours over the weekend writing a webcam driver for FreeBSD.

              This study doesn't take you into account; you're way out of the average.

              For the record, yes, there were good films in 2007, and lots of people went to theaters, paying the ridiculous (in your opinion) prices. I would bet a large portion of the reading audien
        • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:22PM (#22657626) Homepage Journal
          How DARE you imply that anything other than those Evil Content Pirates(tm) is responsible for any downturn (or not a big enough increase) in our profits!!!!
        • None of the above?

          But I will admit that I only buy movies at my local grocery store when they hit about $20 (if not less.) Heck, I've got a bunch of movies that I've bought at that price point. But new movies for $40?

          I can wait.
        • Cinema is a social event...not surprising it doesn't suffer from piracy.

          When you're watching DVDs at home it makes no difference if they're pirated or not, so piracy wins.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Cinema is a social event...not surprising it doesn't suffer from piracy.

            So you're the one who made me stop going to the movies.

            Stop "socializing" during the fucking movie!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Tsiangkun ( 746511 )
        Yeah, I quit buying DVDs and subscribed to a delivery service. The MPAA wants me to believe that legally I am not allowed to copy the movies for viewing on my prefered device at my prefered time and location, regardless of if I buy the DVD or not.

        Since buying the movie on DVD gets me no additional rights, I see no point in buying. My movie collection can grow quicker by having new movies delivered to my house on a regular basis.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by khallow ( 566160 )

        Indeed. DVD sales in 2007 were down from 2006, and DVDs are where all the margin on motion pictures is. The theatrical distribution is really sortof a loss leader to promote the DVD and follow-on media, like DVD, television and video games (an industry which outstrips the film industry in revenues, I might add).

        That depends on the film. Disney in particular seems to have very strong follow-on media sales. But I'd say that the characterization isn't true in general. There are films that do as you say, there are direct to video films that make no income at all from ticket sales, there are films that are make most of their income from ticket sales, and there are films that seem to be loss leaders in all of their markets and only generate bad publicity for the studio. :-S

        But however you view it, there is big money

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iluvcapra ( 782887 )

          there are films that are make most of their income from ticket sales, and there are films that seem to be loss leaders in all of their markets and only generate bad publicity for the studio. :-S

          Even really big, successful, good-press films lose money; remember that stars and directors and producers cut most of the gross box-office receipts up front, in such a way that films like Forrest Gump and Hook STILL haven't turned a profit, despite grossing several multiples of their budget on screens, because such

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by McGiraf ( 196030 )
            1-m ake films costing a bit less and stop paying that much for "above the line talent"
            2- ???
            3- profits!
            • m ake films costing a bit less and stop paying that much for "above the line talent"

              If you don't pay them, they'll go somewhere else, and people go to movies based on who's in them. Jumper is atrocious, and the critics told everyone so, but put Hayden Christianson and Sam Jackson on the poster, and you'll still open at number 1; it may not turn much of a profit, but now the videogame has a good launch, and Jumper 2 is assured boffo pre-tracking.

              • Wait, so which is it? The stars cost more than they bring in, or they don't. If stars aren't bringing in enough customers to compensate for their salaries, then who cares if they go star in a competitors film?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hardburn ( 141468 )

            Yes, they can be shown to lose money, but this is because someone was dumb enough to sign a contract for a cut of the profits rather than the gross. Then the accountants divert some funds through some "production" companies (that are actually owned by the all the same people) to pretend that the movie was actually a big loss, and the people who signed those contracts get squat.

            If Forest Gump was produced with the budget management skills of a yappy wiener dog, it made a profit.

            Incidentally, the author f

            • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

              by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @02:48AM (#22660386) Journal
              Hollywood accounting [] is the term you are looking for,and is EXACTLY why I could not care less if pirates steal the building right out from under them. Look at how many artists have had to sue for YEARS, just to get paid pennies on the dollar? It took Meatloaf, what, twelve years just to get paid for Bat Out of Hell I? Or Peter Jackson having to sue because,according to the studio, LOTR "didn't turn a profit",WTF?? Why should I care about a bunch that buys of our politicians by saying "we need to protect the artists" and then screw them for every cent they can? The truly ironic part is you have a bunch of thieves screaming about pirates. It sounds like something from a Monty Python sketch.
      • theatrical distribution is not a loss leader ok. it's get that nonsense out of the way right now. movies worth their ticket price gross 300 million or more just at the box office, with the MOST expensive movie ever made being spiderman 3 at 500 million to make and raking in just shy of 900 million at the box office alone.

        doesn't look like much of a loss to me.

      • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ma1wrbu5tr ( 1066262 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:36PM (#22658250) Journal
        I'll tell you the same thing I told U2s manager. Make more than 1 good movie (or song) per year (or album). Sell some bumper stickers. OR some action figures.
        I'd be willing to bet Lucas made more $ from merchandise than from the actual Star Wars movies themselves.
        One of the kids I knew growing up had at least $3000 of Star Wars action figures, models, posters, clothes. And that was in the 80's which translates to some ungodly amount now.
        Again, this is a business model issue, not a Piracy issue. If studios are losing money, then they need to re-examine how much they pay executives and actors. I mean honestly, there is no actor alive that is worth millions of dollars a picture.
        Yeah, I'm kindof a Troll about this. F'ing whiners, the lot of 'em.
        • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

          by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:57PM (#22658396) Homepage
          Yep I wish someone would explain to me, in plain terms that make business sense, why an actor should be paid 42 bazillion dollars for four half-days of work.

          And once that's clarified, we'll talk about sports celebrities.

          a. Standing around looking pretty, 10 million
          b. Hitting a ball with a stick, 7 million
          c. Designing the hardware, software and networks that bring it all to the consumers, 40k/yr

          Shit's upside down!
          • Re:summary wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

            by n3tcat ( 664243 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:02AM (#22661122)
            Well, you're right and wrong.

            People are paid based on the money they bring in, not the work they put out. If we were all paid based on the work we put out, then trash men would be gods and many of our congressmen would be paid like school teachers.
          • d. Making someone pretty, 1 million
            e. Fixing someone who got hit with a stick, 20k/yr
            f. 3 year treatment for burnout, 120k/yr
          • Hitting a ball with a stick, 7 million
            OK, to be fair, sports celebrities do have to train hard all year round. That means they're only about 100 times overpaid, instead of about 1000 times.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by asuffield ( 111848 )
            The main reason for the absurdly high pay is that the people aren't considered replaceable. Software engineers can be replaced with some random undergrad incompetent (or at least the managers think they can be), so they're paid squat. You can't replace an actor in the middle of a series or movie (usually), so the actor gets to make up any number they like.

            When computer synthesis gets good enough to slap any face and voice onto any actor (and we're ten years away from that now, at most - researchers already
      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        Indeed. DVD sales in 2007 were down from 2006, and DVDs are where all the margin on motion pictures is.

        No problem. Tomorrow we'll get the story about how DVD sales are down because of the MAFIAA's bullying of customers, terrible movies no one wants to see and rapidly growing demand for Creative Commons-licensed Ogg Theora videos.

        Remarkably, the same conclusion is reached whenever sales go up or go down -- you don't think that when movie revenues were off in 2006 there was a story about how "Gee, maybe we'd

    • Legally, every bootleg copy or download is made equivalent to that person actually going to pay full price to watch or buy the movie.

      In truth, I wonder just what percentage of people who buy bootlegs or download the movie would have been willing to pay instead of simply not watching it. I mean have you seen the tripe coming out of hollywood these days? Granted the whole point of those laws is that those people should not have seen the movie without paying, and so they have taken an undue 'benefit' or 'enr
  • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:31PM (#22656994) Journal
    $9.63 million, a 5.4% increase over 2006

    How about "billion" instead? (It'll probably get corrected.)

    Well, either that, or piracy has indeed PWNED the movie industry. Bad. Hah.
  • by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:32PM (#22657002)
    What alternatives do we have?

    Our body of law gives rights to the creators and their protected ability of being the one to approve copies. Regardless of whether we agree or now with this, that is our situation.

    Now, we take this to the "digital domain". Those older creators want, no.. need these protections as they see in the non-internet world. The only real way to "guarantee" this is by digital restrictions. The best way I think of this is that of a akin to a capability system and the copyright maintainer has an account on your machine.

    However, our machines are ours. The geeks amongst us demand that we are able to control our software and hardware. What was unable to do in WinXP, Vista seems to offer the beginning of that capability system with the media companies at the kill switch. And to top it off, Vista has remotely disabling drivers for "holes" that might appear. For those that own a machine, this OS laughs in their face, as if saying "Bring It On!"

    And there are many casualties. Those casualties are the Joe and Jane Publics that don't understand this issue close enough, or think that all needs to be done is burn to DVD... just like the iPod to music. When they find out that they are locked with binary garbage that cannot be used for any fair use purpose (backing up owned DVDs is fair usage).

    And where are we now? When the users know they are eventually shafted, those that have the know-how will show others where to download the movies and the music they legitimately bought. Once they know they were taken advantage of, any feeling of "theft" (or whatever you call it) will be gone. The media companies had their chance to do their dealings with the public honestly, but have failed.

    Just like língchí.. Death by a thousand cuts.

    posted on
    • The only real way to "guarantee" this is by digital restrictions.

      But the law never made, nor was it ever intended, to make such a guarantee. Nor does DRM guarantee it, and in any event they aren't entitled to it. They're only entitled to spend their own time and money defending their rights in court.

      That's not enough for them, of course ... now they want the Federal Government and every major ISP to handle that dirty task for them. That's just wrong on so many levels.
    • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:22PM (#22657620) Journal
      What I foresee eventually happening is that Hollywood and the creative types in the world will come to realize that the public isn't willing and or able to support them. The public will lose interest in providing a star multiple millions of dollars to sit in front of the camera playing make believe. The studios will realize that they can't keep the movie making juggernaut of writers, grips, camera operators, sound techs, costumers, make-up artists, etc. etc. employed playing make believe.

      What it really all boils down to is that people pay what they think the production is worth. If they want the experience of the theater they will pay for it at the theater. If they want to watch it at home the majority of them will pay to rent it. I think the logical fallacy taking place is that the studios are losing money because of piracy. I'd bet that over 80% of the people who pirate a movie would simply go without if they suddenly couldn't get a free copy of it. Most of my friends who are into movies and really like movies want to support the studios and they cringe at the thought of having a "movie collection" in a CD case with the names scrawled on them in Sharpie.

      Despite the "losses to piracy", the studios continue to put out a good quality product and employ large numbers of people. They don't seem to be hurting that much. The large majority of Hollywood is unionized. Those people make relatively obscene amounts of money for what they do, and the perks are top notch.

      I realize I didn't really address the original question of "What alternatives do we have." I don't see many. Like I stated earlier, people pay what they are willing to pay. Hollywood could identify the conduits of piracy and increases the cost to compensate. For example, they could charge movie rental places more for the original copies. Those places would then charge their customers more to rent them. The people who make copies of the rentals would then in essence be "paying" for the movie. I think that would have the opposite effect though because suddenly a large number of people would decide that they didn't want to rent movies because they were too expensive, and so they'd pirate them or wait until their neighbor rents the movie and makes them an archival copy. The only other option is to lower the cost of the movies to the point where people who are pirating them decide to buy them instead. In theory they could then reap their benefits by sales volume instead of individual unit price. That won't happen though because I truly believe that the people who really want to buy a DVD movie are already paying the price that Hollywood asks. Everyone else just doesn't place a high premium on having a bookcase filled with plastic boxes with pretty pictures on them. They're happy with Sharpie labelled Memorex discs that play the movie as soon as you put it in the player and don't require skipping through warnings, previews and choosing menu options.

      • by joel8x ( 324102 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @11:36PM (#22659214) Homepage
        The evidence of what happened is clear: 2007 was the best year in almost a decade for decent movie releases. And, I'm not talking about just the big crappy blockbusters, but actual good movies like There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men. The increase in box office intake correlates to what we've (intelligent people) been saying all along - put out good content and people will consume it.

        People are sick of crappy popular music and the only stuff that sells in huge quantities is kiddie stuff because they are easy audiences and don't realize that Hannah Montana can't hit a note without autotune. That is the main reason why the music industry is hurting - the talent is abandoning them and their old ways. Pretty soon though, you will find that as video equipment comes down in price and editing software is cheaply available, independent movies will come out and have global distribution the same way any musician can over the internet. The talent will slowly migrate to the new business model while the old studios will cry foul on their own customers. The best thing the movie studios can do to slow down the inevitable is to put out more good movies and stop trying to cheapen your brand by remaking everything just for a quick buck.
  • by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:34PM (#22657046)
    Seriously.. record box office receipts with movies as bad as they are? What the fuck is the MPAA complaining about?

    They make utter shit.. and people flock to pay for it! I can think of maybe one decent movie in the past few years.. Blood Diamond.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Really? Utter shit?

      Mind if I drink your milkshake then?
    • I don't suppose you've considered the possibility that other people's taste differ from yours, and that you are not, in fact, the sole arbiter of what is "good" and what is "shit".

      I'd never expect to find such narcissism on Slashdot!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave562 ( 969951 )
      The Bourne Trilogy was great. There are good movies out there.
    • I'm not quite as down on recent movies, although a lot of them aren't that good. But here is the thing: I, and I assume many others, don't want to pirated movies. Not out of moralism, but because I want to see them on the big screen. I don't want to see a pirated version of Iron Man. I want to see the full blown, surround sound spectacle with a bunch of other people in a big crowded movie house. If there is a movie that I would not mind seeing on the small screen, I feel I can wait to rent it. Movies are di
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RobBebop ( 947356 )

      I can think of maybe one decent movie in the past few years.. Blood Diamond.

      Juno was good, too. But if I ever consider seeing another Michael Bay movie in theaters, I want you to shoot me.

    • What do you mean, "with movies as bad as they are?" The Star Wars prequels were the best ever, man!!!! What planet are you from?!?!

      Oh, wait,... sorry. I forgot that I was posting to slashdot,... ;-)

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      What are you talking about???

      Golden gems like the following are the epitome of Class and Creativity.

      Larry the Cable Guy
      Meet the Spartans
      The accidental Husband
      how to Rob a Bank
      Alvin and the Chipmunks (That one is HIGHLY original)
      Step up 2 the streets
      and the best movie of 2007/2008....


      Why cant you see the Creativity and quality in Movies???
  • "Profits?" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:47PM (#22657216)
    I was under the impression that movies haven't made a profit since shortly before the introduction of talkies. How can the movie industry "lose" that which their accountants deny existed in the first place?
  • by carou ( 88501 )
    Whew. For a moment there, I thought that watching movies without paying wasn't "okay", but it turns out they're still making money from other suckers, I mean, customers. So I'm glad we got that tricky dilemma sorted out.
  • But is it "News for Nerds"? Most Slashdot readers knew MPAA was full of it from the get go.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:56PM (#22657340)
    What do you expect from an industry that produces products that gross many times more than they cost to make, but still supposedly fail to turn a profit? "The Lord of the Rings" movies apparently grossed ~$6 billion, but didn't make a profit, all thanks to Hollywood accounting []. Why should it be different for their other numbers, whether their "lost profits", stats on movie piracy, or any other number they decide to make up for the need at hand?

  • Worthless article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:02PM (#22657398) Journal
    The article is drawing the correlation between MOVIE THEATER revenues and the illicit copying of DVDs. I'd like to see some real numbers about the actual sales in inflation adjusted figures for DVD sales between 2002 and 2007. I'm guessing that they have gone somewhat significantly. Just about everyone I know rents their movies from Blockbuster or Hollywood Video and then if they like it, they toss the disc into the computer and make an archival copy to watch at a later date incase they forget a part of the movie.

    All the data in the article is proving is that a fairly consistent number of people enjoy going out to the movies. It doesn't have anything to do with piracy.

  • Could a factor be that bad copies of movies from camcorders are making the Movie theaters seem better? I know that I can download any movie I want, but often I insist on going to a theater to see a particular movie if I feel the extra quality is worth it. I know I didn't feel that way before P2P. To be frank I hated theaters before because the constant sound/video issues. But compared to a cam it is quite good. HD at home is better though.

  • Theres incomplete statistical data, incomplete statistical data, and incomplete statistical data in this case.

    How is any of this data valuable to anyone? no comparison between alternate goods out there, no verifying beyond the gross dollar value....

    This entire article has the feel of "Pot To Kettle", which really sucks because I wouldn't be surprised if the MPAA's numbers WERE entirely hot air (in fact i'm pretty sure they are). You cant fight bad methodology with bad methodology or you just end up with the
    • You might want to do a little more reading on global warming. There's so many signs pointing in the same direction from so many branches of science that it's getting pretty hard to ignore all the evidence. Gore's movie barely scratches the surface, and oversimplifies to the point of inaccuracy in order to be accessible to a lay audience.

      Bottom line: If the scientist isn't competent in a relevant field and doesn't have a good record of publication in refereed journals, he's full of crap.

      • I said nothing of my opinions on either of those debates, nor does MY opinion in them have anything to do with what i'm saying. I am merely saying that all sides involved seem to be more focused on the end result they want than the means they used to get there.

        THAT is what i take exception to. By anyone. ever.
        • Sorry, I thought you were picking your examples to indicate a lack of attention to accuracy rather than excessive attention to results.
  • by djyrn ( 1174087 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:21PM (#22657616) Homepage
    Am I the only one who feels like the industry position is akin to a restaurant owner trying to figure out a way to charge some customers for using excess salt, and for grabbing two mints rather than just one?
  • I think arguments of how much money is made a honeypot for the MPAA/RIAA to suck us into an argument on their terms. The MPAA/RIAA are going to win if you make it about money for some very good reasons:

    1) It's not about how much money you made, but how much more money you could have made. Great I made $2000 last year on my stocks, but damn those pirates I could have made $3000!
    2) Companies are all about shareholder equity. The more money you make, the more you increase your stock price and the more dividends you can pay out.
    3) The average politician is sympathetic to this, both in terms of legally allowing business to flourish, and corruptly accepting money from donors involved with the MPAA/RIAA.
    4) not enough average people make a stink about losing their rights thanks to copy protection, so politicians don't listen.

    And #4 is what we need to continue to pound on and educate the masses over. Large companies want to slowly take away, nibble by nibble, your rights to copy things that you should be able to copy. You make the message simple enough, pound on it, and don't let up, and eventually rights will trump money. Consumers as a group are the most powerful group in the US, we are just completely disorganized and disinterested. Unless we get organized, the well organized MAFIAA will continue to dominate this discussion in the places where it counts.
  • not quite so simple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @08:30PM (#22657720) Homepage
    A 5% increase (when inflation is 3+%) isn't much to write home about. Up front let me say I only go to at most 1 or 2 movies a year since, well, most of them suck and then there is netflix. That said, it would be a lot more helpful to have not only same screen data (ie, same store sales) but also to adjust it for inflation. That is the only way to have even a remote idea of where things stand. Significantly harder to quantify is the changing nature of what people do in their free time. Growing up in the late 70s/early 80s there wasn't much to do besides a) get drunk b) get high c) to to a movie.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      > Growing up in the late 70s/early 80s there wasn't much to do besides a) get drunk b) get high c) to to a movie.

      I could list reading, woodworking, gardening, playing a musical instrument, riding a bike, skiing, swimming, stargazing, painting, and billiards. Camping, fishing, hiking, metal detecting, maple syrup tapping, and chess in the park. Jogging, flying a kite, building a robot, volunteering for Big Brothers & Sisters, building a brick BBQ off of your porch, or training your dog to play d
  • Downloads were affecting DVD sales not box office. Ironically it was DVD sales that were hurting box office numbers because a lot of people wait for films to come out on DVD now. The reason they jumped on downloading before it became a major problem is they took a lesson from the record companies. The record companies only took action after it started to seriously affect sales. They were too late and lots of people got used to just downloading instead of buying so their numbers have dropped steadily ever si
  • With ticket prices growing constantly (A million tickets sold in 1988 = ~$5 million, a million tickets sold today = ~$10 million), and inflation, even an industry seeing 0% actual growth should report "record" gross sales annually. And of course, the size of the movie viewing demographic is likely to shift over time as well.

    5.4% growth in gross receipts and "record sales" aren't terribly telling. They do suggest that the industry hasn't been totally gutted by piracy, but it's not inconceivable that you co
  • '07 was the first year in a very long time that I actually went to theater. I can't stand the theaters and usually I prefer to sit at home in my comfortable living room free of people talking and able to skip the previews if I want to etc.

    But 2007 had so many movies that were actually worth seeing. The Simpsons Movie, Transformers, The Order of the Phoenix, The Bourne Ultimatum etc. I am not surprised at all that ticket sales were up. It was a very unusual year in terms of quality of "blockbusters".

    Of cours
  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @09:26PM (#22658170) Homepage Journal
    ... make it a business to create fiction?
  • When companies make huge profits, they fire thousands because next years competition will be nastier (so they say).

    Well when records companies make money, that means piracy is destroying their revenues and they don't forget to reduce artists royalties by the way.

    At least communism had it right : everybody has the same as his neighboor : nothing, and elite drive in Lada ( [])
  • What they meant is that the number of people going to the movies is down! The receipts are up because they are now charging $10.00 a person to go to the movies. They have offset the decline in attendance by a huge increase in the price of the tickets. So those that do choose to go to the movies are paying much more that previously.

  • It's so bad that the MPAA wants ISPs to ignore years of common carrier law...
    I'm sorry, I couldn't hear that last part over the sound of ISPs not being common carriers. It's stupid, sure, but stop denying it.
  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:46PM (#22658828) Journal
    when the dollar is falling almost daily. Wheat growers are having record profits, too (despite the famine). That's because the dollar has lost about 15% of its value in the past year. And now comes the torrent of accusations of conspiracy theories because I think the fed inflation figure is laughable. Not that I am saying that the right to charge for a freely(as in beer)-reproducible commodity should be equated with the right to sell a piece of property that can only be sold once without having to create it again (as in bread). Copyrights that last over 10 years is what causes piracy -- not consumers that want to treat movies the way they treat books. But the dollar buys much fewer things that anyone wants to have nowadays, so there are all the dollars people "earn" or have accumulated (when spend at the same rate) must be buying fewer things... but at higher prices.
  • by IHC Navistar ( 967161 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:00AM (#22661116)
    Here is how the MPAA / RIAA / ISP logic works:

    Year-End Loss: Piracy is to blame. It's not our fault.
    Year-End Profit: We had great artists/writers/engineers that made some great products.
    Not Enough Bandwidth: Piracy is taking up all the bandwidth. It's not our fault.
    Excess Bandwidth: We have a better system than the 'other'guys. We're better ISP.
    Low Box Office Turnout: People are pirating movies instead of going to the theater. It's not our fault.
    High Box Office Turnout: We made really great movies.
    Low Record Sales: People are pirating all their music instead of buying it. It's not our fault.
    High Record Sales: We have great artists who produced great songs.

    Anybody see a pattern here? Whenever the MPAA/RIAA or ISP's have problems, they blame pirates for "taking away" sales and clogging networks. The MPAA and RIAA don't realize that if they continue to pump out crappy content (films/music), then people are going to want to make sure thay what they are going to spend $25 on is worth it (would you buy a song or movie without listening or viewing it first? A 30 second preview isn't enough.). The MPAA/RIAA doesn't understand that people are pirating because the industries are prducing horrible music albums and over-hyped movies that nobody feels is worth their hard-earned money. Every film t hat comes out of Hollywood is over-hyped and inflated, so there is no way to tell a great film from a bad one. Record labels use the trick of putting 2 or 3 good songs out of 10-12 tracks on an album, and then charging $25 for the whole thing. If you produce crappy content, people are going to do what they can to make it better, or at least save themselves from being duped by record labels and film studios. ISP's have a similar reaction: Comcast blames p2p file sharing ("pirating" in Comcast's eyes) as the reason that it's service is horrible, rather than acknowledge that it spends way to much on advertising for customers that it already doen't have the bandwidth or infrastructure to support.

    Whenever these guys have problems, they shift blame to other people, namely, "pirates". BUT, when they have a windfall, they are pretty damn quick to shift the attention towards themselves.


    Successes: We're just simply a company of experts who know what we're doing!
    Problems: It's your fault, not ours.

    The problem isn't only limited to these groups, but can be seen in other companies that don't understand how to run a business:

    MAINTAIN your infrastructure. If you lose it, you have nothing.
    INFRASTRUCTURE is everything. If it suffers, your customers suffer, and ultimately, you will suffer the most. (Just look at AOL.....)
    DO remember that your customers chose you. You didn't choose them.
    DO keep your customers happy.
    DO provide good service.
    DO give the customer what they want. If you do, they will give you money in return.
    DO remember people want a product, not more advertisements. (AOL again.....)
    DON'T spend more than you make.
    DON'T advertise things you can't deliver.
    DON'T try to pull a fast one by your customers. You will always lose.
    DON'T overvalue your product. (AOL again.....)
    DON'T treat the customer like an ATM. It pisses them off.
    Word-Of-Mouth is the best and most effective way to get a new customer.
    A happy customer is far more likely to convince a friend to buy from you than your commercial is.
    Money from a customer is good, but get greedy and it will disappear.

    And lastly:

    DO remember that your competitors would be more than happy to buy your company from your creditors if you ever went belly-up.

    • Here is how the Pirate / Terrorist / Communist logic works:

      Year-End Loss: Poor artists/writers/engineers are to blame. It's not our fault.
      Year-End Profit: We knew piracy wasn't that bad!
      Not Enough Bandwidth: ISPs have to upgrade infrastructure. It's not our fault.
      Excess Bandwidth: Whee! More music and music! ... err, which was all rubbish to begin with.
      Low Box Office Turnout: The movies are crap. It's not our fault.
      High Box Office Turnout: What the hell are the MAFIAA complaining about?
      Low Record Sales: Wel
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @07:13AM (#22661400) Journal

    The problem is that the content products like movies, music even books try to pretend they are normal products until it comes time to actually discuss profit margins and production costs.

    You would say that if a movie cost X to produce then if it made a box office result of X+Y that Y would be profit? It don't work like that, extremely successfull movies that break box-office records can nonetheless show a LOSS. Hollywood style accounting would get you arrested in any other field, but somehow we tolerate it because... well you got to wonder why it is tolerated.

    It seems rather convenient that the movie industry is allowed to just inflate its costs on all of its products until they rather handily do not show a profit. Say I create an item, a painting, I put itup for auction, then as the price goes higher and higher I keep increasing the costs of the paint I used so that even if my simple pencil drawing started out with a cost of a penny, if it sells for a million, it cost me a million and a penny to produce.

    Idiotic? Well it happens all the time in movies, just look at the Spiderman movies and Lord of the Rings trilogy. Products that OBVIOUSLY had more revenue then cost but that is NOT what the final account says.

    I know this will shock americans, but it is high time the state steps in and regulates the content industry. Offcourse that won't happen, any politician who dares regulate hollywood will be torn to shreds by the media.

    And we swallow it, what is the favorite show of Slashdot? Futurama? How many eps show rampant anti-piracy propoganda? A show were turning humans into a softdrink is perfectly fine, but copyright infringement is an evil that deserves an entire episode.

    We are controlled by the media, as long as the media can set public opinion they can abuse this by making sure politicians who do what they want them to do get noticed, and the ones who go against get buried.

    Oh and don't think for a second that the content industry cares one shit about censorship. Ratings, a fine for a nipple? All part of charade. In exchange for allowing Hollywood to make its own economic rules, the politicians are allowed to introduce simplistic and ineffective self regulation.

    And no, this is NOT a conspiracy theorie, there are no shadowy meetings in which this is arranged, it is just how things work. Conspiracy theorists are dreamers, idealists who hope that there is a clear enemy who no matter how powerfull can ultimately be overcome one day.

    Real life don't work that way, there is just an understanding. Politicians leave the content producers alone, and the content producers won't tear them a new hole in the public eye.

    Ever wonder why we think Kerry was a stiff, Al Gore to intellectual? Who do you think put that image in our minds? Watch the media very carefully and see how every person who is the smallest threath to the way things are done is assasinated.

    Just imagine how you would react to a Jay Leno monologue about a senator who wishes to put the IRS in charge of examing hollywoods finanicials. How many seconds do you think he would need to tear this guy down and the audience swallowing it hook line and sinker?

    The politicians KNOW this, the media controls the public so they can never control them.

    Some people believe a free press is needed to keep goverment in check, but who keeps the media in check? Examine the politics in England and how newspaper support for one party or the other can swing the election. The media is the watchdog, but who watches the watcher? The public? Yeah right, they only know what the media tells them.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.