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Bootleg Movies: Helpful or Harmful to the Industry?

February 9, 2015

I was speaking to a friend last night about a couple of movie trailers I saw. One was a film about a robot gaining artificial intelligence and the other was about medical students bringing the dead back to life. I had mentioned that these films seemed like rehashes of the same old movies we’ve seen before. How many films have we seen about robots gaining artificial intelligence and becoming a threat to society? How many films have we seen about med students playing God? I mentioned that films were lacking originality. That was when my friend suggested, to me, that I buy a bootleg copy of the film first. Then I could see if I liked enough to either A) see it in the theater, or B) buy a copy of it. I was instantly offended, but I’ll list his reasons below and you tell me what you think.

His theory is that if more people see the film it equals more money for the project, even if the people that see it are only paying money to the man who illegally recorded it in the theater. He says that if he buys a bootleg copy of the film for two dollars and he likes it, he’s more likely to watch it in theaters or buy a Blu-Ray copy of the film. My counter argument was that if the movie wasn’t good, then the producers of that film lose money and won’t be able to afford to invest in films of higher quality. I mentioned that it is truly harmful to the independent market. His retort was, “if it’s a bad film, it won’t make money anyway. The cream always rises to the top.” He’s a bartender. I told him the equivalent would be for me to run up hundreds of dollars on a bar tab, then stiff him on the tip. He told me that analogy was “utter horseshit!

He proceeds to tell me that if he waits for it on Netflix, then he won’t buy the Blu-Ray copy. But maybe, if it’s really good, he’ll buy an HD copy. He claims this limits sales because he would have bought the Blu-Ray, but now that it’s on Netflix, he doesn’t need to. He also says that he doesn’t feel bad about buying bootleg copies because the actors, writers, ect. don’t lose money if he does. But I counter-argued that it does if the actor takes his cut on the back end. Agreed, most everyone involved, except the producers, get their money up front. But imagine if everyone decided to watch a stolen copy of the film before it was released. Sony knows of this first hand. The producers lose their shirts and don’t take the risk to invest in another film. It just seems bad for business to me

He goes on to state that if he Tweets about the film, assuming that after seeing the bootleg copy he liked it, then this will increase the buzz about the film and help it generate more purchases. I don’t think his Tweets to his 17 followers are going to generate that much buzz. He doesn’t have that much clout in the social media department. Personally, I’m disgusted by anyone that would purchase bootlegged films. But I’d like to know what your opinions are; share them in the comments below.

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