back to article BitTorrent not to blame for movie revenues, says economist

An economist known for sticking pins in big content's dire warnings about file sharing has produced a new study suggesting that BitTorrent's impact on movie revenues is small and sometimes even positive. Koleman Strumpf, who has taken the adding machine to RIAA and MPAA claims of monetary loss since the heyday of Kazaa, has …

  1. Winkypop Silver badge

    Movie theatres!

    I remember those.

    A trip down memory lane.

    Are they still staffed by clueless droids?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Movie theatres!

      They're (almost) all american owned, and show the exact same films across every one, same old turgid American market films (clueless script, excessive CGI, teen nonsense, banal humour, you know the sort). I gather that most films cost close to £10 now, never mind that extortionate "food" they sell. Have to think back some time to remember much more than that

      1. Tom 13

        Re: clueless script, excessive CGI, teen nonsense, banal humour, you know the sort

        Given that American movie companies now depend more on foreign revenue than domestic, you have no one but yourselves to blame for the current crop of movies.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: clueless script, excessive CGI, teen nonsense, banal humour, you know the sort

          Yep, if the market wasn't there, they wouldn't be made..

          No idea why you got all the downvotes...

  2. Denarius Silver badge
    FAIL

    you mean movie makers still have not realised

    that crap movies dont make money ? One gets tired of rehashes, repeats, remakes and same old, same old.. And theater prices for snacks, dont get me started. I digress. Since when has evidenced based approaches to policy ever been done ? Cant have that, too many pressure groups might be told to shut up.

    1. Neil B

      Re: you mean movie makers still have not realised

      @Denarius - If you think crap movies don't make money, I refer you to the Transformers franchise.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: you mean movie makers still have not realised

        " If you think crap movies don't make money, I refer you to the Transformers franchise."

        Depressing, isn't it?

        I was found the first one disappointing, so I decided against going to see the second. I eventually watched it when it didn't cost me any extra, and found it disappointing. I didn't even consider the third when it came out.

        There's a cinema I use most often - I go there because it's reasonably cheap (old-style fleapit) and it's on my route home from work most days, so if there's a film on that I want to see at near enough after the time I'd go past, I'll go then. That usually means a 4:30-5:00pm start - and often has the benefit of not many other people in the screening to spoil it.

        This week, the most convenient film for my times? The new Transformers film.

        I spotted at the weekend that Netflix had number three, so because I wouldn't be paying any extra to see it (other than giving up my time) I thought I'd give it a chance, and if I enjoyed it I'd consider going to see number four. Either I'd forgotten just how bad the first two were, or number three is even worse than they were, because that was a truly awful experience.

        Needless to say, I won't be bothering with the cinema this week.

        1. I'm Brian and so's my wife

          Re: you mean movie makers still have not realised

          Netflix has the third one, but not the second - another example of the difficulties encountered when trying to do the right thing by joining a subscription service.

          1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

            Re: you mean movie makers still have not realised

            Actually, Netflix having only 1 and 3 is a bonus in the subscription fees IMO... Though only having the first would be better.

            Like most Trilogies, they only ever made the first film, the other 2 are figments of our imagination and shall never be watched...

            (Or in the case of trilogies of trilogies, only watch the first 3... though Disney could turn it around ;) )

  3. Martijn Otto

    Add the 3d farce

    As a reason fewer people go to the cinema. It really doesn't add anything to the experience, besides making the tickets more expensive (because they have to earn back their "investment").

    Also irritating is, at least for those people not blessed with living in a native-english-speaking-country, are subtitles. They get in the way and distract you from the movie, even if you are perfectly capable of understanding the spoken english. Why they don't use the same technique as they do for 3d to give you the option of wearing those glasses to not see the subtitles I don't know.

    What is left to me is downloading. It's the only viable option. Why not buy a blu-ray you ask? Well, those are encrypted and only allowed, closed-source applications can play them. I refuse to install closed-source crap on my system so the only way to watch a blu-ray is to bypass that encryption, which is a crime (and a much more serious offense than downloading).

    So, given that the MAFIA (Music And Film Industry of America) does not give me any proper, paid options, they are not receiving a single dime of my money.

    1. Down not across

      Re: Add the 3d farce

      Also irritating is, at least for those people not blessed with living in a native-english-speaking-country, are subtitles. They get in the way and distract you from the movie, even if you are perfectly capable of understanding the spoken english.

      It could be worse....it could be dubbed.. At least with subtitles you can still hear the original dialogue.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: It could be worse....it could be dubbed.

        As someone with a fair number of anime watching friends, I've listened to the sub vs dub argument for ages. The simple truth is, they are both subject to very bad work as well as occasional exceptional performances.

        There is one valid complaint against most commercial subs: the failure of studios to pay attention to small details. Fan subbers long ago discovered that the optimal subtitles are yellow characters with a thin black outline. Yet most commercial releases continue with solid white characters.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Add the 3d farce

      I think you're the first Dutch person I've come across who dislikes subtitles. All my friends claim that they don't notice them, at least for English language films. Here in good old Jormany we get horribly dubbed films: Clouseau does not have a silly French accent in German versions of the Pink Panther!

      1. Richard Altmann

        Re: Add the 3d farce

        When i come across eastern european youngsters i find that their english is worlds ahead of what a german kid is mumbling. Quite sure, they did not learn it in school. So i went to ask them. They are watching the same rubbish TV series and movies from the states as the tschörman kids. Only, in their countries the "content" is neither subbed or dubbed.

        1. Angol

          Re: Add the 3d farce

          In Poland, at least, they're routinely subtitled. Films for children are dubbed. Television usually has the original audio turned down and a single Polish-speaker reading the script.

    3. mark 63 Silver badge

      Re: Add the 3d farce

      That blu-ray excuse is a bit weak isnt it? No closed source crap on your system? is this just you computers or all hardware? Is your cars ECU open source? or do you not use powered transport for the same reason? If it is just the pc buy a blu ray box. And to swap sides for a min - does anyone know how I can play a blu ray (that i bought) on my pc using the 5.25 blu ray drive (that i bought) without paying a ridiculous amount for software? VLC claims to be able to do it "somteimes" but it wont for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Add the 3d farce @mark 63

        "That blu-ray excuse is a bit weak isnt it? No closed source crap on your system?"

        Probably the most frequently used one here.And after such lame arguments, the people that use them wonder why The Reg coined the term "Freetard" ...

        1. Stacy

          Re: Add the 3d farce @mark 63

          Having moved to Holland, the only issue I have with the sub-titles is that now I have learnt Dutch I tend to laugh at jokes before that have been spoken because the appear in the sub-title.

      2. Martijn Otto

        Re: Add the 3d farce

        I don't have a car, I have a recumbent bike which I use for greater distances (like the 50 KM work-related travelling I do daily). Haven't actually thought about a car having a proprietary ECU since I never even considered buying a car.

        A blu-ray box will still have the same proprietary crap, it's just even more closed because now the platform is closed too. A blu-ray box most likely does not support the pulseaudio protocol I use to get the audio everywhere I want it to go. So all in all it's way too limited.

        The high cost for blu-ray software is most likely due to the fact that they create artificial scarceness by not giving everybody a key. Another good reason to avoid that stuff like the plague.

    4. Chika

      Re: Add the 3d farce

      Also irritating is, at least for those people not blessed with living in a native-english-speaking-country, are subtitles. They get in the way and distract you from the movie, even if you are perfectly capable of understanding the spoken english. Why they don't use the same technique as they do for 3d to give you the option of wearing those glasses to not see the subtitles I don't know.

      Duuuuuhhhh....

      Actually I've seen a fair amount of criticism about this, especially as I'm a veteran of any number of sub vs. dub threads on Usenet from back in the days when tape was all we had. It seems that not only are many English speakers scared of speaking other languages, but they insist on finding excuses for not watching video contents with subtitles. A pity, because they lose out on so much good stuff.

  4. jake Silver badge

    More probably, Hollywood (etc.) ...

    .. is losing money because of an extreme lack of anything new on the menu.

    1. MrDamage

      Re: More probably, Hollywood (etc.) ...

      Agreed.

      Just go to IMDB, and have a look at some of the movies either under, or about to go into production.

      The Spiderman franchise wasnt even 10 years old when they decided to reboot it.

      Fantastic Four is getting a reboot.

      Since Twishite, ane tween book franchise is getting a movie deal, when before it wouldn't have even gotten a direct-to-video offer.

      LOTR and 300 inspired a lot of crap directors and producers to dig through ancient history and do their own rendition of classic myths.

      And let us not forget the never ending sequels to a reboot, of a remake of of a reimagining of a movie that was good in its day, but gets shat upon from a great height by someone who thinks they can do it better (by adding more explosions and fucktons of CGI).

      1. I'm Brian and so's my wife

        Re: More probably, Hollywood (etc.) ...

        Is that a metric or imperial fuckton?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More probably, Hollywood (etc.) ...

          It's Hollywood - it's a U.S. fuckton

  5. MCROnline

    Its a shame really

    I went to the cinema a couple of months ago for the first time in a few years to see Godzilla, and it was nearly empty. It was so devoid of staff I had to buy tickets from the refreshment area as the main ticket area was closed. We are talking about a weekend in the evening, not a Tuesday afternoon.

    The age of the cinema is coming to an end. Its not piracy or lack of interest in the latest remake, its not even the cost, its the whole experience. Its both dated, overpriced and overrated. Cinema is to entertainment what public transport is to getting around. I just prefer to be by myself / my family without the forced social interaction.

    What we need is a free "cinema box" at home. Something we hook up to the TV for special occasions. You pay a fee and you watch your film and you can even rate it. No interruptions from noisy neighbors in the next aisle, no mobile phone distractions and no fuss or overpriced snacks.

    Piracy will fall, the movie studios will make more money and everyone / everywhere can see the latest film at their convenience, at a time that suits them, in their own home.

    1. Down not across

      Re: Its a shame really

      What we need is a free "cinema box" at home. Something we hook up to the TV for special occasions. You pay a fee and you watch your film and you can even rate it. No interruptions from noisy neighbors in the next aisle, no mobile phone distractions and no fuss or overpriced snacks.

      Ok its not free, but lot of us have Tivo or Sky box which does PPV.

      So the technology is pretty much in place. All that would be needed is for the films to be available at theatrical release time.

      1. Daleos

        Re: Its a shame really

        "Ok its not free, but lot of us have Tivo or Sky box which does PPV.

        So the technology is pretty much in place. All that would be needed is for the films to be available at theatrical release time."

        You have to pay Sky for a lot of other crud to get PPV so for it to work for me, the box needs to be free (or cost price) and then have the ability to PPV per movie, not per month or whatever subscription costs.

        I can go weeks without watching the TV and a heavy week will be 3 hours of TV so I really pick what I want to watch. However, I'll happily pay the average price of a cinema ticket to see a movie at home on the day it's released. It would have to be without ads or other bullcrap though. The main reason I'm off TV is because I can't bear the interruptions.

    2. wowfood

      Re: Its a shame really

      its not even the cost, its the whole experience. Its both dated, overpriced and overrated.

      This reminds me of the annoying adverts at the beginning of DVDs. (which I still don't get the point of) hey you bought this DVD legally, now we're going to talk at you about how stealing is wrong. That'll teach those thieves who pirated the DVD and therefore didn't see this annoying advert.

      But the most annoying is the one advert that goes on about how "By downloading this film you're missing out on the true movie experience"

      If I wanted the true movie experience, I'd spill a sugary drink over the floor to get that extra sticky sensation, have somebody standing up in front of me and blocking my view every few minutes, talking, playing on mobile phones, and eating loud snacks (who ever decided nachos should be a cinema snack food should be shot in the foot)

      I often find that a lot of these anti piracy things are aimed at the wrong people (the people who paid)

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Its a shame really

        You forgot the crying baby.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Its a shame really

          And the trailers. Don't forget the twenty minutes of trailers.

          I went to the cinema for the first time in a decade to see The Hobbit with some friends (they're major geeks, but I thought I'd tag along). After about ten minutes of pish, I nearly walked out.

          I eventually stuck around and the whole experience (once I got past my existing issues with anxiety etc...) was a bit lacklustre. Don't think I'll bother again, frankly. If I want to spend money to be made uncomfortable, there are far better ways of doing it.

          Steven R

          1. Chika

            Re: Its a shame really

            And the trailers. Don't forget the twenty minutes of trailers.

            Yeah, but at least they keep them to the start of the movie rather than peppering them right through it. Mind you, with all the product placement we get these days, what is the real difference?

          2. Tom 13

            Re: Don't forget the twenty minutes of trailers.

            The trailers I don't mind nearly as much as the 20 minutes of commercials they show before they start the trailers. I already bought my Coke/Water/Dots/Popcorn/burger/dog before I came INTO the theater. So all you are doing is irritating the frack out of me. Also, one reminder to turn off your phone is sufficient. It should come right before the trailers start and after that if anybody's phone goes off they should be escorted out of the theater with no refund.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its a shame really

        Spot on.

        I used to buy a lot of DVDs. I was always irritated by the anti-piracy adverts. I bought the damn thing, why lecture me about what other people do?

        In the end, I decided I may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb and started pirating movies. The quality was usually fine, I could play movies on any device (DVDs can be picky about where they work) and there were no unskippable adverts and anti-piracy lectures. I am not a pirate on principle but if they won't give me what I want, I'll take it for nothing without a shred of remorse.

        Buck your ideas up dinosaurs and I'll happily pay. Treat me like a fool and I'll pirate your movies with pleasure.

    3. Stacy

      Re: Its a shame really

      I don't go to the cinema that often because of the cost, the interruptions from people on the phone, or talking to each other the whole way through the film, or playing with laser pointers, or dirty seats, etc, etc

      But that is the whole reason why I don't do. I would rather go to the cinema to see a film on a huge screen, with amazing sound and all of the experience. That is still up to date for me. It's just a shame it doesn't exist anymore...

    4. hairydog

      Re: Its a shame really

      My local cinema is owned and operated by the local council.

      It is frequently full. Yes, full, with hardly any seats left.

      And why?

      Because it is not a rip-off: just £5 or £6 per adult,

      Because it shows films that people want to see (not necessarily just the current crop of recent releases)

      Because it is not filled with noisy louts.

      Becasuse there is plenty of legroom.

      Because it is clean and pleasant.

      Because it is part of the local community.

      Because it is in the town centre.

      And of course, it is successful because it is sociable. Seeing a film with lots of other people is not the same as seeing it at home.

      1. Shell

        Re: Its a shame really

        Similar to my fave local cinema here in Edinburgh. It has three screens, a great bar and family membership that brings the ticket prices down to ~£6.50. The membership accumulates points too, resulting in totally free film watching - think I've got about £80 of credit now. They show a mix of international films, but they also have the big block buster films if you don't mind waiting a few months after general release. In the evenings it's usually packed. It's a lovely experience.

  6. Sampler

    Contrary to most in this thread I enjoy going to the cinema and probably average a couple a month over the year.

    Yes it's expensive (about fifty bucks for the two of us her in Oz, plus snacks) but it's a fun trip out.

    3D is annoying and should go away, especially as an additional cost, as if you don't want to watch it in 3D you get stuffed into a small screen - if I wanted to watch on a small screen I would be at home. Films like Dredd were actually worse for the 3D too (highlighted the noise in the dark scenes).

    There's more people selling overpriced snacks than tickets at Event's in the CBD - Hoyts make sense by having the people sell both.

    I also have a large collection of bluray/dvd's as if I love a film I will buy it (unless the distributor try and screw you over like the case of the Lego Movie - half the extra's and no minifig on the Aus release vs the US, which you can't import, naturally, due to region encoding).

    However I constantly feel shafted by doing things "the right way", if I were to download these it'd be easier than visiting a shop, I wouldn't have to put up with forced, unskippable, irrelevant trailers and piracy warnings.

    They denigrate the customer experience where piracy only offers a better experience.

    Same with services that retail online, and as I'm in Oz I'm in no position to use streaming services, I can barely watch a low encode youtube vid.

    1. Down not across

      However I constantly feel shafted by doing things "the right way", if I were to download these it'd be easier than visiting a shop, I wouldn't have to put up with forced, unskippable, irrelevant trailers and piracy warnings.

      Like you, I have over the years amassed quite a collection DVDs and BluRay disks (and in my case quite a lot of LaserDiscs). My pet peeve is also the forced anti-piracy "Do not steal" "It's illegal to.." warnings and lately trailers as well that you're forced to watch.

      Treat your customers like criminals and eventually they will become such.

    2. Chairo

      3D is annoying and should go away, especially as an additional cost, as if you don't want to watch it in 3D you get stuffed into a small screen - if I wanted to watch on a small screen I would be at home. Films like Dredd were actually worse for the 3D too (highlighted the noise in the dark scenes).

      I completely agree with you. I don't understand why movie theaters don't offer special spectacles with two identically polarized glasses for people that don't like 3D. That would be trivial to implement with negligible additional cost.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        "Contrary to most in this thread I enjoy going to the cinema ....

        ... 3D is annoying and should go away"

        Apparently, contrary to (most in this thread)+(most of the rest in this thread) I enjoy both going to the cinema AND the 3D :-)

        In general, I perfer to see a 3D version over 2D if the movie has anything to do with sci-fi/fantasy and CGI.

  7. Bert 1
    Unhappy

    Sticky floor

    I went to the cinema last weekend to use up some Tesco vouchers.

    I spent the whole film being annoyed that my feet stuck (very effectively) to the floor, and I still have a piece of popcorn on my left shoe it appears.

    :-(

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: Sticky floor

      I was just wondering...

      Any idea what was sticking your feet to the floor?

      Because we're after a decent glue to make some lightweight carbon fibre stuff bond to some metal.

      Wheres the vomit icon :)

      1. Bert 1

        Re: Sticky floor

        I'm *really* hoping it was just coke, but you've got me worried now!

  8. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Cause or effect

    > file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue

    So the implication is that studios should be paying the filesharers for the benefit they confer?

    I think this is one example of why people take the piss out of economists and their prognostications.

    If you only look at the dates and numbers, without applying a small dose of common sense, you could arrive at this conclusion.

    Just because the studio's value blips upwards when successful films start to get downloaded is really just an indication that whatever is driving the price, also drives the download activity. Presumably both effects are driven by the pre-release "buzz" generated for the film: both from reviewers and the trailers. All this tells us is that the filesharers have access to pretty much all the new releases, whenever they please - and choose to put them on torrents when the film looks like being a success.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Cause or effect

      So the implication is that studios should be paying the filesharers for the benefit they confer?

      Not necessarily. The research does seem to back up the idea that file sharing can act as publicity: whether it's because people dislike screeners (I can't stand them myself) or subsequently decide to watch a film on the big screen or both.

      However, one thing file sharing definitely does is displace activity: if you're watching something you've torrented you're not doing something else (such as watching the same item on DVD or TV or out down the pub with your mates). In fact, in many countries torrents of Hollywood films have displaced local films.

      Hollywood has for years been griping about sales lost to piracy, and got some nice laws drafted for its efforts, but it has also been far more positive about digital downloads than the music industry. Both have suffered more from expected incomes from format shifts (remember all the CDs we bought for vinyl or DVDs of VHS we already had?) failing to materialise. In music this was coupled with some stupid contracts and artists rediscovering concerts (previously a means to publicise records, now highly lucrative events not least because the record companies were cut out). Hollywood has profited from the proliferation of TV channels as additional means of distribution in the digital age but failed to see those channels as potential threats: HBO, et al. have for years been producing better quality fare of their own and have become more interesting for artists.

    2. teebie

      Re: Cause or effect

      "So the implication is that studios should be paying the filesharers for the benefit they confer?"

      No

  9. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Value for money

    Considering the cost of making a movie that is 'Episode seven' or 'Big Tough Bloke 5' then I guess that many people realise that the constant re-hashing of simple themes and then releasing what amounts to a poor follow up (ups) come a very poor second to the huge budget non- movie series.

    The popularity of made for telly/net progs like Games of Thrones (no, I haven't - I read all Martin;s Space Opera stuff years ago and can't see anything really any different this time) ties audiences in to a regular spend and the ability to watch whenever and wherever they like.

    Given the choice of a local sweatbox (or freezer) with leaky sound and dickheads with phones as opposed to getting some beers in and skinning up a couple in readiness, folks will prefer to stay at home (or visit a mate) and watch on a big screen with a good sound system instead.

    There are many movies that are 'BIG' visual productions but they easily lose thier attraction after the fourth huge orange explosion accompanied with CGI debris that comes right at you.

    Me, I'm about to spend out on the South Park game which will last a lot longer than 1:45 for not much more of an outlay.

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Meaningless research

    If I've read it right he was looking at the effects on share price of knowing a new release is out in the wild.

    Not at the time that the investors were seeing real effects on revenues.

    So it's about whether one set of investors, working in short term transactions, feel that other investors, mostly also working in short term transactions, want to buy or sell shares. ( Even "futures" are traded in real time).

    None of which is based on anything more than gut feeling. Certainly not on what will actually happen to those revenues over the next few weeks.

    1. teebie

      Re: Meaningless research

      So the share price reflects whether investors think other investors think the torrent will affect the films' sucess.

      Assuming the investors are all holywood insiders, does this study give us an insight that the film industry doesn't really believe that torrents affect their revenue? Or am I stretching too far?

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Meaningless research

      Everybody knows movie revenue and profit numbers are far less reliable than the stock prices he examined. Just ask Meatloaf even if it was a different industry. Besides which the investors are the ones buying the shares. So the expectation is that if you see a torrent release and figure that's going to tank profits, you'll dump your shares as fast as you can even if you lose some money just so you won't lose more. Likewise, if you see the torrent release as a benefit, you'll buy more shares. The important bit here is that regardless of which way the trend moves, the percentages as they relate to torrent releases are negligible.

  11. auburnman
    Holmes

    Hypothesis

    The real reason 'The Man'* gets irate about downloading is negative word of mouth, i.e. when they have spent millions upon millions on a film that turns out to be utter shit, they still have a chance to recoup most of the costs in the opening weekend before the news of how horrible it is spreads. With leaked downloads, they don't get to control the PR message and when word gets out that it is horrible sales plummet. discuss.

    *'The Man' used because I can't remember the name of the shill being used this week.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Hypothesis

      In the current age, the only PR the companies control is up to the first screening. After that it hits twitter and the blogs. By the end of opening weekend, all control is lost.

    2. Jay 2
      WTF?

      Re: Hypothesis

      Funnily enough Mark Kermode did one of his video blog thingies on this subject (see linky below). There's apparently an unwritten rule where journos see films whenever, but hold off publishing their reviews until the official opening.

      All well and good, but "The Man" (for it is he), has now started showing films as previews to the public up to a week or so before the official opening. The reasoning behind that is so that by the time the critics publish their scathing reviews more punters would have already handed over the green stuff. The flip side of this, is that anyone who goes to one of these previews can just as easilly then bang out some vitriol on Twitter/FB...

      Kermode: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/markkermode/posts/Preview-Tactics

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Hypothesis

        Since I haven't found a professional reviewer that reliably mirrors my idea of what a good movie is*, it makes no difference to me what they say. If I like the look of a film's trailer, I'll go and see it close to its release date regardless of what reviewers say. If I'm not so sure, I'll wait until IMDB has got several reviews and then look at a selection of the best and worst comments. Over a year, I probably see about one film a month at the local cinema thanks to Orange Wednesdays (which doesn't resemble the chamber of horrors described by some here - never had a mobile go off, no laser pointers, no babies, no sticky carpets). I also like the adverts and trailers, much to Mrs IP's disgust - they provide a nice lead in to the film, and it feels like the supporting feature that used to be on before films when ah were a lad.

        * There used to be a website that compared the ratings of professional reviewers with your own, but I don't know if it still exists. I'd be interested to see if there is a pro out there who thinks that "Wreck-It Ralph" is significantly better than "Citizen Kane", and "The Addams Family" beats "Psycho" into a cocked hat ...

        1. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: Hypothesis

          Answering my own post - there is a tool for comparing critics' opinions with your own at http://www.wisegeek.com/which-movie-reviews-should-i-believe.htm. It is limited to well-known critics, but it is interesting - I would never have thought that Rotten Tomatoes agreed with me 70% of the time (on the films used for the assessment).

  12. Neil B

    The constant upward trend in cinema ticket prices is not sustainable. Like @Sampler I go once or twice a month for movies I think will benefit from the big screen and/or 3D. I enjoy the experience (else I wouldn't go), but the price is rapidly approaching the point where, for me, it's just not worth it. This is especially true given the (what seems like) almost immediate release of the thing on home media or streaming services. Three-star middle-of-the-road efforts like "Monuments Men" or "Cuban Fury", where I might have gone to see them at the cinema ten or fifteen years ago, are just not worth it any more.

    Very little of this is the fault of the cinema itself, by the way. Over-priced concessions are just about the only way they make any money at all for movies which drop off the charts after two weeks. Make sure you focus your wrath at the right people.

  13. Shane 4

    Geez let me see, Family night out at movies $50+(That's just the tickets), Putting up with annoyingly loud food wrappers from other people, Others using phones or talking through movie, Coming back to your car that's been keyed from some jealous asshat.

    Compared to staying at home with family and friends, Reclining on couch with feet up like gold class, pizza or anything else which you cant take inside cinema, No finding parking space, No annoying people to ruin movie, Large screen TV with Dolby surround, $5 movie rental for HD version on my cable tv box and even 3d version for those that bother.

    I think you get the picture, I know which one I'll take every time!

    You can have a tv or projector that can cover your whole wall these days for an affordable price, The times have changed. They need to come up with a completely new experience if they want to take peoples money which is getting harder to come by for many.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fire the studio-heads, let the markets decide what gets green-lit...

    The bosses at big studios have no idea what works and what doesn't in film anymore... Proof: They keep shoving Transformers of the Caribbean like sequels down our throats.....Followed by endless Marvel Comic reboots and tiresome reshoots...

    In the end, all they ever do is ruin the memory of classic flicks such as Total Recall... And you won't believe the sequels they have coming down the line in 2015 / 2016....

    I use Bit Torrent unapologetically! I hope they get the message one day...

    1. Neil B

      Re: Fire the studio-heads, let the markets decide what gets green-lit...

      @AC - If you don't think the Transformers movies are market-driven, you need to look into how much money they make. That franchise is the most commercially-green-lit, by-the-numbers cash-cow you could possibly imagine. No-one forces people to go watch them, but they do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "'No-one forces people to go watch them, but they do.'

        Horseshit Neil! You sound just like a 'Suit'. People are a captive audience at the cinema... They show up and have to take what they're given. Transformers might be the least worst option on a given weekend but that doesn't mean its market driven....And it doesn't mean people wouldn't be more discerning if they had better choices... Netflix confirms that! You think the world wants more 'Inceptions' or 'Transformers' dude???... C'mon man!

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: "'No-one forces people to go watch them, but they do.'

          "People are a captive audience at the cinema... They show up and have to take what they're given."

          In that case every movie's opening box office take would always be the same. It obviously is not, so there is a problem with your theory.

  15. itzman

    Cinema?

    Only time I went to one of those was for a red carpet screening last year.

    Its not bit torrent that kills it. Its NetFlix. Or whatever. Mate rents DVDs rips em and passes em out to anyone who wants them.

    Cinema experience only made sense whene projection equipment was too expensive for domestic purchase: That started to end with TV, and now with HD TV and blu ray, its dead.

  16. Hellcat

    I'm going to have to put a good word in for my not so local cinema. A really good independent showing a few blockbusters, but also a good amount of less well known and foreign films. Staff are knowledgable and happy, the place is spotless, and for less than the price of a sticky airplane seat you can cosy up on a leather sofa with a well stocked bar.

    I cringe when I am 'invited' to go watch a movie at one of the modern cattle houses. It really is a excercise in restraint when subject to mental torture. Awful conditions, awful films.

    Tyneside Cinema, I sault you!

    1. Neil B

      @Hellcat - I envy you, I really do.

    2. Gavin McMenemy

      I'd like to give a shout out to the local cinemas we have in Edinburgh:

      Dominion Cinema: Couches with footstools or lazyboys, beautiful listed building and interior, can buy drink on the way in (or bring your own - they don't seem to mind) etc...

      Cameo (Picturehouse Cinemas are now owned by Cineworld that is true...): shows a great mix of films. Nice auditoriums. Bar and cafe is good too.

      FIlmhouse: if you want Iranian films about teaching donkeys to polka they probably have it on.

      But the thing is even outside of them the chain cinemas aren't bad. Even my local vue is relatively pleasant. People are in general ok, although I've had the odd bad experience - you get bad folk everywhere and bad manners are nothing new.

      All this might mean I am spoiled but I do in fact like going to the cinema.

      1. Shell
        Pint

        Now now, don't be mean about the Filmhouse. They show the Big Films (yuck) too if you don't mind waiting a while. They have one of the best 3D screens in the city. If that's your sort of thing. I fairly frequently camp in their bar too...

        I generally hate the multi-screen cinema. Ocean Terminal Vue is the closest cinema to me and it's a truly soulless place. Still somehow once in a while I find myself at one of these McCinema's watching Yet Another Sequel :/

        Funny though, I found this less the case abroad. The 'Mars' cinema's in Istanbul are really impressive*, technically anyway. There's an incredible Sony cinema below in Mori Tower, Tokyo too. I wish either of these could be my local!

        *despite the rather odd Turkish custom of having a piss/snack-break mid-film, mid-reel, regardless what is happening on screen

    3. Tom 13

      Re: the place is spotless, etc.

      I think you've hit on the real keys. For a movie theater to be successful, it needs to be a special experience. Your big screen home tv will still not be as big as the theater screen and the sound will always be a bit better. But if the seats are too tight, with insufficient leg room, and there's too much crinkling of candy wrappers or talking on phones, the experience is ruined. And most especially, the floor can't be sticky. That may mean they need to add a couple of people to staff. Escort out people who are talking on their phones*. And if needed, mop out the rows with the spilled drinks.

      *I'd almost prefer a sign outside the theater: We employ cell-phone signal suppression equipment on these premises to insure all of our patrons enjoy our movies. But I know that likely breaks local ordinances in more than a few jurisdictions.

    4. A Nother Handle
      Thumb Up

      Tyneside Cinema

      My Dad took me to see a double-bill of The Blues Brothers and Dr Strangelove at the Tyneside Cinema twenty years ago. I'm glad to hear the place is still going strong.

  17. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Franchise

    Reading the comments above, a thought occurs.

    If lots of people are watching Tranformer Wars xiii on an illegal copy they are still just as likely to be buying the toys/McMeals etc.

    And that seems to be where the money lies.

    So maybe the biggest money churner is actually increased by illegal downloads etc. Which would make the share traders quite happy.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A month ago I tried to figure out what I'd watch if I /were/ to go to a local cinema - to find nothing on I'd watch (through all summer) without actually being paid to do so, let alone to decide instead against going, and to save myself £5.50 and go to the trouble of finding an awful torrent.

    Maybe there were 5 interesting movies this decade, on the very loose definition here being that I watched and can still remember them without trying too hard.

    I don't especially mind the "experience" of declining to buy overpriced food that's so sugary and/or fatty someone is trying to ban or better, to tax it - which I consider an independent choice to going in the first place. I don't think the cinema concept is outdated in pure technology terms just because we have colour TV's at home as well now - because theirs is still bigger, and their neighbours won't complain about the noise. But it has to show engaging content. To get people on seats they could get proactive and say, run the entire game of thrones(, person of interest) series to date before the new ones air*(torrent) and /that/ would get me to go. That would be a compelling product.

    As TV is producing interesting material where the movie industry by and large, doesn't and for 15 years, to pick a more or less yet not really arbitrary figure, hasn't and if they're not going to produce anything I'd want to watch, I'm not going to watch it.

    But TV's delivery means of choice is naturally enough, a TV (or to me anyway, a computer). How can this seem so complicated.

  19. Valerion

    Even when it's free I hardly go

    We get 4 free cinema tickets every week with our medical insurance (not sure how encouraging you to sit on your arse for 2 hours whilst stuffing your face with popcorn and Minstrels helps you stay healthy but whatever).

    And even though they're free I've only been 3 times this year. There just isn't usually anything worth watching to justify the 30 minutes of adverts and trailers (don't mind the trailers, can't stand the adverts). And sitting in a cinema that's either too hot or too cold, with lots of other people crunching, blocking my view, and just generally being there. And stuck on an uncomfortable seat with not enough leg room.

    Better to wait for it on Netflix - or iTunes/BluRay if I really want to see it - and watch it on my own TV, on my own sofa, with no adverts.

    When everybody had 20" CRT TVs with a VCR there was a point. Now everyone has a 50" HD TV with full surround sound, the cinema "experience" is not the step up it once was.

  20. Skizz

    As we're talking about films...

    Can I be the first to say "Hello to Jason Isaacs"?

  21. StampedChipmunk

    Content is the key

    The other week I turned 40 and my glorious missus booked out a screen at our local Cineworld as a surprise (lots of friends were there, all lovely). The film we saw was Back to the Future - now *gasp* nearly 30 years old. It was played off blu-ray through the digital projector.

    It looked glorious. It sounded brilliant. We'd all seen it before but we still cheered when Biff got punched, when Marty played guitar and we all whooped at "1.21 Jigowatts!"

    But here's the thing - it's a great movie. It's great on the TV, it's great on the ipad, but it's freakin' awesome on the big screen with thundering sound.

    Most current movies aren't. Being fair to Marvel their films do tend to concentrate on the plot and characters more than most, but it still a bloke in tights thumping another bloke in tights. The only difference from film to film is the colour of the tights.

    It seems as though the creativity has been leached out of the majority of cinema production. Where producers are confident to go with less mainstream (currently superhero) productions and provide a decent budget good films are still made - Ron Howard's Rush and Skyfall, for example. High quality scripts backed up with fine technique, but these aren't the blockbusters we all crammed into the Odeon to see when we were younger. Where's this generation's Indiana Jones? or ET? or Gremlins, or Explorers, or Goonies?

    Mark Kermode once ranted that every blockbuster makes money through tie-ins and advertising and DVDs and box office, so why not make a good one? Back to the Future went through hundreds of rewrites before the script was deemed okay to shoot, and even then it went through dozens of iterations, including swapping out the lead actor!

    Now things are lazy, people don't seem to bother.

    So why should I bother to pay £7.50 to be disappointed?

  22. NotWorkAdmin

    "Transformers: Age of Extinction"

    There's the reason Hollywood is losing money right there. Stop making shite films and perhaps, just perhaps I'll start going to the cinema more than once a year. Enjoyed Rush so much at the cinema I bought it on DVD. Then bought another DVD copy for my dad. So there you go - make something half decent and I might be willing to pay for it 3 times.

  23. John 156
    Big Brother

    Does Hollywood produce entertainment, anymore?

    Hollywood has moved from providing entertainment, other than for infants, to using its English language film monopoly for the purpose of Cultural Marxist grooming of its audience in order to prepare the world for Western multiculturalism; one of its great successes has been election of Barak Obama as President of the World whose interventions in Ukraine and the Middle East look designed to provoke a world war. In order to remind people what they would wish for if they rejected their multi-culti trash is increasingly repetitive films of the evil nazi genre; funnily they don't produce films about the Bolshevik Empire and the consequent dangers of allowing a criminal alien gang funded by Wall Street banksters to take over a country who would then go on to murder sixty million Slavic Christians with the ultimate goal of taking over the globe.

  24. sisk Silver badge

    So basically he's proven scientifically that you can't make money by overcharging for bad movies even if people aren't downloading them.

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