August 18, 2005


Piracy is normal with a national distribution model. I'm not sure dressing like this is.Indiewire has an article about piracy, parallel imports and their impact on American distributors. You can even see me in there, foaming at the mouth about something or other. Since the flecks of foam blocked my larger point, let me take a minute to talk about piracy.

It's normal. It's not a problem that needs to be defeated, but simply a growing pain that the business is experiencing as studios move from a national distribution model to a global distribution model. Granted, massive piracy can have an impact on a film industry's bottom line, but if you look at Hong Kong in the late 90's where piracy was blamed for the near-death of the industry there, you'll see that while piracy certainly played a part the real story was an over-inflated film production bubble bursting. In the 90's everyone started making movies in Hong Kong, stars got spread too thin, too many bad movies were dumped on the market and audiences just started staying away in droves.

Which sounds like America now.

Back when the antitrust legislation in the late 40's forced studios to divest themselves of their theaters a bunch of fly-by-night operators sprung up. Piracy of product ran rampant, shoddy movies flooded the market, television was hailed as the final nail in the coffin (just like P2P is proclaimed to be such today) and things looked bleak. Gradually the small producers were absorbed into the big studio motherships, and we wound up with a system like we have today where any theft on the part of theater owners is minor and big nation-wide releases are the order of the day. It took about 20 years for things to standardize. And it didn't happen because the studios sued their competition out of business, but because they adjusted their business model and competed.

Now distributors need to realize that they have to think globally or someone else will and they'll suck the money right out of their pockets. I think the smartest people on the planet right now are the producers of SHA PO LANG. Their movie was finished back in April, but they're holding off to premiere it globally at Toronto in September and then they'll probably make a sale and it'll be worth more money since whoever picks up the North American rights won't be competing with a video or theatrical release before their US release.

Think globally -- that's the future.

August 18, 2005 at 08:48 AM in News | Permalink


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