A rant about poor quality Hollywood content & distribution.

I thought that TAC’s response to my article last night deserved a spot of its own, so I am pasting it below.

In short, he’s right. As a lawyer, I get so caught up with each individual client and defending whether copyright infringement actually happened or not that I overlooked the big picture “elephant in the room” point — that if the movie production companies would actually make good content which would inspire someone to buy a movie ticket, and if they would make that good content readily available rather than blaming downloaders for a few bucks of loss of revenue, then piracy wouldn’t even be a problem.

I used to be a movie buff. I would see every movie in the theaters, and if there was something I missed, I would catch it later when it came out on DVD. However, the… pardon my language… “crap” that has been coming out of the theaters over the last ten years has lost me as a fan. I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie and felt that I got my money’s worth. More often then not, I leave the theater feeling cheated.

The internet created a problem for the movie companies where it enabled average internet users to share digital copies of movies which [by definition of being “digital”] are the identical quality as the files burned on DVDs from which they are ripped. They tried to stop the copying through creating privacy measures that blocked an individual from being able to copy videos, but individuals got around those protections.  Then they passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) statutes and made it a crime to unblock the copy protections, but people did it anyway.  Then they sued the downloaders and claimed they were going after the lost revenue, but instead, they went after statutory damages of $150,000 per instance of infringement.  In the process of suing downloaders (rather than suing the initial uploader or working to take down the infringing videos), with the birth of the Dunlap Grubb and Weaver, LLC Voltage Pictures, Inc. “Hurt Locker” and “Expendables” lawsuits, Voltage Pictures, Millennium Films, and other production companies turned their failed b-rated movies into a money-making extortion-like shakedown scheme where they asked for tens of thousands of dollars for what was really the loss of a movie ticket or a DVD rental.

The point is that Hollywood and their production companies spend so much time trying to clamp down and stop people from getting content that if they spent those same dollars finding new ways to make content readily available, they would stop the piracy problem (or at a very minimum, they would convert many would-be pirates into paying customers).  Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Redbox have the right idea of trying to find ways to get movie content into consumers’ hands, but even they run into licensing problems where the Hollywood movie studios won’t let them provide content to their subscribers (and thus great movies and TV shows are commonly lost to history).

[Case in point — The Stargate TV series (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Unvierse) — all AMAZING shows, but there was a point that Netflix took them down from their site citing licensing issues, and if you wanted to see them, you would have needed to either buy the DVDs on Amazon, or “look elsewhere” for them (meaning, piracy).  I would have happily paid more to Netflix to keep them available, even in a “click here to pay a bit more to see this video” fashion.  UPDATE: I am happy to share that Amazon Prime provides all seasons of these shows to their paying customers, so yes, Jeff Bezos is doing his job of making content available.]

This argument has gone around in circles for many years. Point being, the movie companies have obviously chosen that their focus will be to clamp down and spend their money to fight the losses from piracy rather than innovate and make good content that would inspire people to open their wallets and pay for a movie ticket or rent a DVD.

This is my point, this is my feeling, this is how I see things. I could be wrong, but who cares. Unless I see quality new content in the theaters (and not recycled old story lines), I’m not buying a ticket. Superman versus Batman?!? Really? Yet one more Borne Identity?!? Really? Ice Age in Space?!? Really? How many times can I hear the same story told over and over again? I’m honestly bored of all of this recycled media crap and I wish they would start looking for new and original content.

Thus, in all fairness and thanks to “That Anonymous Coward (TAC),” below is his comment to last night’s “We are winning the bittorrent piracy war against copyright holders, but what are the unintended consequences?” article which inspired this entire line of thought.

TAC from that anonymous coward :

And there in lies the biggest problem.
People look at Popcorn Time, and don’t understand how it works. They might assume that its just an awesome service. It works like everyone imagines we should be able to get content.

The “war” has always been pointless.
Everything done to “stop” pirates, ends up punishing paying customers… and eventually when you hassle paying customers enough they look for other ways to get the content.
We’ve missed out on technology moving forward, because of screams that it MIGHT hurt the bottom line of an industry that has its own special ‘accounting’ practices that manage to make a world wide blockbuster look like it lost money.
They aren’t honest about their books, they aren’t honest about actual harm, they aren’t honest about why they refuse to stop punishing paying customers & creating more consumers that might turn to piracy because it meets their want for the content how, where, when they want it that the industry can’t seem to understand.

When they cling to an outdated business model, ignoring the consumer demand for access, they have forgotten they are in business to sell content… not impose pointless control over people who already paid them who get treated worse for playing by the rules.

Imagine what they could have done with all of the time and money they have dumped into the anti-piracy schemes (that never pay that well or accomplish what is promised) and had used it to “fix” the horrible patchwork of laws & rules to create a unified worldwide business model that makes getting the content customers want faster & easier. But then they would be making more money they they ever imaged possible… but would still be imagining there is a dollar out there they aren’t getting & end up harming paying customers chasing the imaginary dollars.


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4 thoughts on “A rant about poor quality Hollywood content & distribution.”

  1. Just because it is currently a shakedown object, I had a mistake of watching “London has fallen.” To say that this movie is crap would be an insult to crap, no less. I was literally shocked: I probably never watched a film of a lower quality. And yes, I did watch “Plan 9 from outer space,” and I enjoyed it.

  2. *giggles* Usually I make lawyers rant against me. 🙂

    DGW was their ‘professional’ face, in adopting a pattern we’ve seen repeated by those trying to pretend they aren’t extortion artists/trolls they created US Copyright Group to be the letterhead. And they aren’t even the first (funny story I ran across my copy of the ACS server dump the other day).

    Hollywood is bereft of new ideas.
    The Marvel Cinematic Universe works so well because its different & they have decades of source material to mix and match to appeal to an already existing fanbase. I’m sure that there are a few movie execs still in treatment after ‘Deadpool’ got approved in the way it was released. Somehow it did huge numbers despite not being tamed down as some wanted it to be.

    The Blair Witch Project (or how I learned to wish stedi-cam was way cheaper) made by outsiders, untouched by the Hollywood machine, huge hit… because it was different. Then Hollywood being Hollywood started churning out sequels that were a waste of celluloid. (google it kids)

    They are afraid to try new things, and on the rare occasions they try something new they panic and do something to screw it up, then comfort themselves with the knowledge that new ideas are always bad.

    We have always made our money using these formulas, designed to extract every penny that we immediately make look like a loss on the books. They don’t want to accept we don’t have to set sail to carry film cans to other countries any more. They like the idea of charging more based on how ‘hard’ it was to get the movie to the country. After decades they finally are starting to give up on the 2yr delay in content making it to Oz, not because they realized people will pay them… but because tired of waiting they are getting the content from other sources.

    Its time they learn to take risks again, because there is already nonhollywood content making money online. Its getting interest & demand… and perhaps its time to stop trying to crush the upstarts but embrace them and keep the hands off & just enjoy the money.

    1. As I was reading your reply, the “Orange is Black” Netflix exclusive series came to mind, as well as the various Amazon Prime (or Hulu?) exclusives where they are making their own original content. Good for them, bad for Hollywood.

      I searched the Yahoo Movies listings just a few minutes ago, and seeing Pete’s Dragon and Ghostbusters, I couldn’t help but to chuckle. Really? Pete’s Dragon? I saw that movie when I was a kid. Why would I want to see a CGI-reanimated version of it now? That’s like buying a whole new Star Wars DVD collection because they came out with a Jabba the Hut or a Yoda that talks and walks whereas the original used a stuffed doll or puppet.

      1. Well Pete’s Dragon more that likely exists so that they can attempt to keep the story locked away for another century. (That and I’m sure that the last couple of Redford films were torrented & trying to recoup his salary a few thousand at a time by trolling)

        Ghostbusters exists because Hollywood is stupid. After the failure of diversity for the Oscars & all the promises of fixing the issue, Ghostbusters just seems like a pandering attempt to cash in on ‘girl power’. Of course people are to busy dumping on the stars for daring to be involved (cause they think girls are icky I guess) to look at Hollywood and ask with that many talented female comedians… this, this was the best you could do??

        I look forward to Expendables 47: Operation Get the Depends.

        Funny you should mention Star Wars because there are people who would pay top dollar to get the original unfixed/unfooked trilogy (with the bonus Christmas Special). They didn’t like having their memories played with, and while the movies weren’t to Lucas later standards – he left a ton of money on the table. Of course part of the problem is no one is willing to actually take a stand anymore to make a point to corporations. Yes they bitch on FB or Twitter, but when was the last time you saw people picketing Nintendo for having been stupid, or arranging an actual boycott? We whine about bad treatment, but no ones willing to vote with their wallet anymore.

        I think another thing that is hampering Hollywood is the copyright confusion about who owns which pieces of which rights, and corporations not caring to look but very willing to sue if you do something that might make a dollar & they decide to see if they hold the rights. The short film Power Ranger (the gritty 1 time reboot thing) went through so much insanity from the rightsholder… who paid no attention to the huge draw the film was getting. Instead they are making yet another formula movie, added a couple big names to cash in on some fandoms… but its not going to be an adult film. Its like all of those fans who grew up watching the show don’t matter, they keep targeting new kids ignoring that parents sucked into nostalgia would drag their kids into the fandom.

        They cling to the things they “own” & refuse to try anything different. Stuck in an ever repeating loop of universe reboot films that will suck, hoping they can get enough interest to remake all the sequels to recapture the magic.

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