April 8th, 2009
I see ads against piracy are trying to get people’s attention in the cinemas again as a series of new ads are trying to persuade us that buying a cinema ticket – rather than a pirate DVD, contributes to the making of Brit movies. Indeed Noel Clarke’s kindly voice over, thanks us for our offering. Errr, not quite true.
The money from a cinema ticket is split largely between the cinema and the distributor. Very little gets back to the film’s producer, particularly at the level of release most Brit movies have, there are notable exceptions of course, but even for blockbusters, it’s all relative.
In the UK, cinema audiences are big, last year there were over 164 million admissions at say, £8 – £10 a ticket, which adds-up to a lot of money. So if some of this money did go back to Brit producers, they’d all be smoking very fat cigars, but no. Of the UK’s top ten films for every year between 2004 and 2008, none were made by Brits. So, close, but…..
A couple of weeks ago, we reported on the Bollywood producers who were getting fed-up with not getting a fair deal from distributors. Now, those producer’s have gotten even more fed-up, have gone on strike and are refusing to let any of their pics go on release until a better deal can be struck.
Currently, producers there get 40% of revenue and are holding out for an even spilt, while the cinemas want the revenue to be performance related. Now, Indian cinemas are about to enter the period of poor returns, as the cricket season begins and audiences will be staying home, so with no new product to run, the multiplexes will be forced to run older movies, attracting even fewer people to their ticket booths. Interestingly, families in India often prefer a night-in with a DVD to an expedition to a multiplex.
Now DVD’s give a producer a much better deal, indeed some would say the cinema release, is a mere appetiser for the DVD, monetarily speaking. DVD sales and rentals, particularly when they go global, which a lot do as they’re so cheap to make, do very well indeed for the producer, thank you very much. And of course anything that makes money will inevitably be found on the black market. Technology allows easy replication of DVD’s so in an attempt to cut the market for the pirates in China – one of world’s biggest markets, where DVD rules ok, Warners, Paramount and latterly Fox, started selling the real thing at a micro-price of $1.46 against the poor quality illegal copies at just over $1. Then something dreadful happened – broadband.
Before broadband It would take many millenniums to download an entire movie, now, less so. And of course it’s hard to stop as there’s nothing to get hold of. But then, there are the ISP’s, the providers of the gateway to the internet, the threshold guardians if you like, but for the moment their swords haven’t been drawn. In France, the government is trying to introduce the ‘three-strikes’ law, whereby if you make three illegal downloads you’re internet connection is cut off. So this is now where creative industries and governments have to turn their attention.
And in one of those cruel and strange twists of irony you’d expect in any good movie, only a couple of days ago, Fox News 411 columnist Roger Friedman was fired for reviewing the soon be released, Wolverine. Why? Because the movie was set for a May 1 release and his review was based on an illegal copy viewed online! Worse, the movie was to be released by his employer, 20th Century Fox, themselves. Typical of pirate movies, the film was apparently unfinished, still missing some CGI, and showing just green screen backgrounds.
Hugh Jackman was scarily grouchy as he echoed his character Logan’s words, “Mine got taken. That will never happen again.”