MPAA Says Anti-Piracy Efforts Are Reason Behind The Dark Knight Success

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You have to love the spin doctors. No not the band, the group of people that are try to put a certain angle on a viewpoint. Specifically the MPAA’s latest claim that The Dark Knight had such a smash opening weekend was because of their efforts against piracy. It couldn’t possibly be because the movie was actually good, could it?

TechDirt.com points out that the MPAA would have us ignore the awesome reviews, that the movie was available in IMAX (which you can't replicate at home), or that the movie was available online right after it was released in their claims.

In the LA Times article that spawned this debate , the MPAA’s argument cites the original Hulk movie. They argue that a rough, early version of the movie by Ang Lee made its way to the internet about two weeks before the film's scheduled premiere which provoked negative reactions from the comic-book’s devoted fans.

"A lot of people decided not to go near it. Hollywood argued, correctly, that many more people would have gone to see it, had online buzz not been so critical of the movie," said Eric Garland, the chief executive of BigChampagne Online Media Measurement, which monitors file-sharing networks. He is later quoted in the article as saying, "If the movie's a stiff, and word gets out too early that it's a stiff, it's devastating to the business model”.

No kidding? So moviegoers should pay to see a movie that’s crap so we don’t devastate the movie industries business model? Hulk grossed $62 million in its first weekend. A respectable amount, but by the second week reviews and word of mouth pushed grosses down 70%. If the leak of the rough version hurt the movie so bad, why did it have to be out for a week for people to turn up their noses at it? Face it the movie stunk.

When your position has such weak standing in the first place, it’s hard to spin the topic in your favor. If the MPAA wants to know why theater attendance is down they just talk to the people, and not try to pin the cause to fit their agenda. Why should a couple spend nearly $30 to get into a movie, plus another $15 on snacks and drinks to sit in some fairly uncomfortable chairs, elbow to elbow with strangers for a mediocre movie? DVDs and home theater make it pretty appealing to wait it out and catch it at home six months later.

In this respect the RIAA and the MPAA are just alike. Technology has changed and is allowing people to make other choices. Their members are creating entertainment designed to fit is a winning “formula”, all while the price on this entertainment goes up. Why are CD sales down? Try making an album that has more than one or two decent songs on it instead of filling it with B-sides. I’d rather go to Amazon.com and buy the one song for around a $1 than pay $15+ for the CD full of crap.

What do you think? Does the MPAA have it wrong?


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