Researchers from the University of Minnesota and Wellesley College recently got together to answer one simple question: does BitTorrent hurt U.S. box office numbers? According to this study , the answer is a resounding ‘no,’ much to the chagrin of the movie industry. The study did find a correlation in the data, but it amounts to Hollywood throwing away money.
One of the talking points used to push SOPA and PIPA in recent months was the terrible impact illegal downloads were having on movie ticket sales. The paper in this case found that the volume of BitTorrent downloads a movie got had no measurable effect on box office numbers in the initial U.S. release. However, for films that were not released until later internationally, the study found a small decline in revenue in those markets (about 7%).
“We do not see evidence of elevated sales displacement in US box office revenue following the adoption of BitTorrent, and we suggest that delayed legal availability of the content abroad may drive the losses to piracy,” the study reads. So really, if the movie makers are worried about piracy hurting the bottom line, all they need to do is release content in short order all over the world. When people are given the choice of snagging a pre-release leak, or going to the theater, they apparently choose the latter.