Aussie Film Distributor That Pledged To End Movie Release Delays To Combat Piracy Delays Movies Anyway
from the lego-my-movies dept
Back in 2014, much was made about piracy in Australia, specifically whether Aussies using VPN services to get the American flavor of Netflix should be more heavily combatted and how release windows for movies in Australia were pushing the public to pirate the film instead of waiting for it. While much of the conversation about Netflix was unfortunate, we did see some positive signs about release windows coming from distributors in Australia. One distributor, Village Roadshow, even had its CEO admit how badly a delayed-release window had boned them when it came to the wildly popular The Lego Movie.
Burke admitted last night that the delayed release of The Lego Movie in Australia after the release in the United States to coincide with the school holidays was a mistake.
“We made one hell of a mistake with Lego. It was an Australian film, we financed it together with Warner Brothers, it was made here in King’s Cross. Because it was so important, we held it for a holiday period; it was a disaster,” he said.
“It caused it to be pirated very widely, and as a consequence — no more. Our policy going forward is that all of our movies we will release day and date with the United States.”
These kinds of revelations are a positive sign. Rather than shouting about piracy and copyright law, Burke realized that what spurred much of the piracy was his company’s refusal to release the movie as soon as it became available. Instead, the company delayed the release to coincide with school holidays, theorizing that this would create a better opening for the film in Australia. The public, however, demonstrated that it would much rather see the film as soon as it should have been available, as it was heavily pirated in Australia.
So, lesson learned, right? Nooooooooope. Instead, Village Roadshow recently performed the exact same delayed-for-school-holidays release for a movie. The name of that movie? Lego Batman, because if you’re going to do the exact opposite of what you pledged, you might as well make it as ironic a flipflop as possible.
AUSTRALIAN moviegoers were left with a bitter, yet familiar, taste in their mouth in December when the distributor of the The Lego Batman movie announced it would have a delayed release date, premiering Down Under more than six weeks after it hits US cinemas.
According to the Village Roadshow CEO, “99 per cent” of the films distributed by the company line up with the US release date. But in this instance, they believe the loss of sales due to piracy will not outweigh the boon of the school holidays when Aussie families fork out at the box office.
So it’s the exact same theory that the exact same CEO said didn’t work a mere two years ago? Come on, guys. What has changed in two years to make them think it’s going to be any different this time around? And, perhaps more importantly, what can the company possibly say when Lego Batman is being heavily pirated in the exact same way as The Lego Movie? It can’t scream about piracy, or the public will simply refer them back to that thing they said two years ago when they admitted it was the fault of the delayed release. It can’t pledge to kill the delayed windows, because it already did that and it turns out that it was a pledge worth nothing. Instead, Village Roadshow will be able to merely stay silent and not count the money it should have been making.
The statements coming from Burke this go around are far less encouraging.
“Yes, we will lose a lot to piracy, but the other side of the coin is the film is available when the audience that goes to these sort of films wants to see it,” he said. “When certain films go out in non-holiday periods, our audiences get very cross because the kids are not available to take them.”
Aside from the fact that this line of thinking didn’t work with a nearly identical movie delayed in an identical way a mere two years ago, nothing about this statement makes sense. If you’re losing a lot of viewers to piracy, that’s because they don’t want the release delayed. It can’t be both that the film is heavily pirated and the public wants the delay causing the piracy. That makes zero sense.
I can’t wait to see Burke’s reaction in the window between the American release and the Australian release.