I Will Believe That Piracy Hurts Hollywood When Hollywood Stops Making Bad Films
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The reason the entertainment industry’s support of SOPA / PIPA and stance on piracy and the market angers and annoys me is that they are trying to sell us the idea that millions is being lost along with jobs. Have you ever seen the pre-movie commercials where the Best Boy Grip or the Stunt Coordinator try to convince us that pirates are stealing food from their babies mouths? Horrible, right?
Thing is, none of that is true.
First, the people involved in making movies on that level get paid as the movie is shooting, not after. They get paid no matter how much the movie makes or how much it supposedly loses due to piracy.
The only people who “lose” money are those who get cash when a movie turns a profit, and even then they employ creative accounting measures to ensure that only a certain section of those people get to that money. See fights over Forrest Gump, Lord of the Rings, and more.
Second, I refuse to believe that movie studios are hurting for cash and that jobs are being lost when Hollywood continues to make shitty movies that no one wants by people who have a track record of making awful films hated by all with good taste.
To put it bluntly: as long as M. Night Shyamalan is allowed to make films I will not buy any sob story Hollywood tells me.
Think about it. Ever since The Sixth Sense Night’s movies have been steadily worse. You’ll find some people who defend Unbreakable or maybe Signs and I even know someone who found a sliver of merit in Lady In The Water, but by the time we got to The Happening it was clear to everyone that whatever mojo the dude once had was all gone.
Yet still he was allowed to make The Last Airbender and pen a script for Devil. He’s been given budgets in the millions, allowed to employ hundreds of people, make bad casting decisions, and generally run what should have been a guaranteed success into the ground. And he was given this opportunity after making a movie wherein sentient plants attacked the world in retaliation for global warming in all seriousness.
It’s not even just one director or one set of bad movies. This is the industry that greenlit and brought to our silver screens movies like Just Go With It (2011), Sucker Punch (2011), The Smurfs (2011), Clash of the Titans (2010), Knight and Day (2010), Burlesque (2010), Marmaduke (2010), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore (2010) – shall I go further back? Oh let’s — The Final Destination (2009), Year One (2009), The Love Guru (2008), Step Up 2: The Streets (2008), Norbit (2007), Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector (2006), Big Momma’s House 2 (2006), Son of the Mask (2005), Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004), From Justin To Kelly (2003) okay, I will stop.
You see my point, though. Those movies each made multiple “worst of” lists. I’m sure some were honest efforts, perhaps some were ruined by interference by studio bosses, producers, and the like. However, I challenge anyone in Hollywood to tell me that absolutely all of those movies were made in good faith that they weren’t terrible.
If the entertainment industry was hurting, if piracy was really costing people jobs and stealing millions from those who needed to feed their babies, then the industry wouldn’t waste money this frivolously. In the end, it doesn’t matter if they make a shitshow of a movie, they will make money off of it. Who cares if it flops at the box office?
They’ll distribute it internationally and make up the difference. It will be released on DVD and Blu-ray and digitally no matter how few people went to go see it and someone will buy it. Digital and physical rental services will purchase copies and rights. The studio will sell it to one of the premium movie channels and then again to other premium movie channels a few years down the line. It will be on TNT or TBS or Comedy Central or any number of channels a few years after that.
Hollywood has money to spare. And they have no trouble employing people all the time to write, produce, make, film, and edit both good and terrible movies.
When the day comes that movies everyone knows will be terrible aren’t made in order to focus on the good ones that will make the most money then I will maybe believe that piracy is hurting the industry.
Do I think that piracy is right? No, I don’t. What I do think is that the arguments the entertainment lobby is using to push SOPA and PIPA are disingenuous. And when you push bad policy under those circumstances I will not support it. The problem is that they know if they were honest about what they want to accomplish no normal person would be on their side. Maybe not even the congressperson they’re buying off.