Film piracy gives studios a reason to worry

The summer movie season is a time of huge blockbusters and stand-out indie dramas. The months of May all the way to August are times that everyone pulls out their wallets spends money on these event films. With the industry producing so many in-demand films, it becomes a real hit to the bank account to see them all, giving people a reason to seek other means of viewing them.

While some areas have tickets as cheap as eight dollars, tickets in big cities such as New York or Los Angeles can be upwards of fourteen dollars. Ticket prices are going up at local theaters every passing year, keeping folks away from the movies.

Enter the video pirates. These outlaws in the entertainment world leak the movies and give them out to the public. Normally, we don’t think of movies as “products,” but they are made by hard working people, marketed by hard working sales teams and financed by big-time corporations just like anything you’d pick up at your local store. Yes, video piracy is considered stealing from the company who put it out and it appears to have grown worse than ever.

Just this past summer, the old-school action throwback The Expendables 3 became a victim of piracy. Just 21 days before its August 15 release date, a DVD-quality copy was leaked on the Internet and downloaded 189,000 times within 24 hours. The result? Many got to see the film before its release and without having to pay for it, partially resulting in a disastrous box office run for the film. Critics argued the film’s quality and poor reviews caused it to stumble into box office lows, but the role of piracy in the film’s failure appears undeniable.

This illegal activity may even cause actors in the industry to refuse to work on a certain project. In an interview with Digital Spy, actress Chloe Grace Moretz, spoke about her role as Hit-Girl in the cult hit Kick-Ass franchise. When asked if she would continue the role, Moretz answered: “Sadly, I think I’m done with the character. Hit-Girl was a very cool character, but I don’t think there will be any more movies. You make these movies for the fanboys, but nowadays everyone seems to pirate them rather than watch them in a movie theater.”

Sometimes piracy can work to a company’s advantage. Games of Thrones has broken the record of the most pirated show of all time, yet HBO doesn’t seem to care. They would rather people watch their content than not see it at all. But even with HBO embracing it, piracy is affecting the entertainment industry in more negative ways than positive. Hollywood is in the business of selling films and television as products, and when that product is stolen, the company suffers.

“There’s a perception that it’s a victimless crime. But it’s not. There are just a handful of super successes every year among hundreds of movies that are brought to market. And when a film is copied or made available online, it reduces the value of that film around the world” says Mark Batey, chief executive of the Film Distributors Association. But actions have been taken. Just this past month, a man from the UK was arrested and sentenced to 33 months in prison for pirating and selling the movie Fast and Furious 6 before its release.

With criminal activity like this, it is no wonder studios like Marvel and filmmakers like Christopher Nolan take privacy and security among crew as seriously as they do. Studios want to protect their products from the writing of the script to the DVD sales, but it becomes harder every year to keep these things from happening. That’s why the studio behind The Expendables 3, Lionsgate, has filed an official lawsuit against the sites who run these stolen copies, hoping that this small step can lead to big actions in the future.