People do not go to the cinema because of piracy?

This is a sentence that gets repeated (at least in Czech) media on a daily basis: “In times when people do not go to the cinema due to the prevalence of internet piracy, movie producers have to…”. To me, this statement is very problematic from at least two reasons.

Firstly, it conveniently repeats something, that is usually not even connected to the body of the message itself (in this particular situation it was a report about some new film festival project that was not addressing issue of piracy at all). You can call me paranoid, but this looks very much like a PR propaganda of some very particular groups that are trying to frame certain issues certain way so they can pursue their own agenda. But why does it get picked up and repeated on a public service television is beyond my understanding…

Secondly, and more importantly, I have a problem with the factual side of the statement. What evidence is there for a connection between decreasing popularity of cinemas and increased sharing of illegal copies over internet? There certainly can be a correlation, but why is not the assumption of causal relationship between those two phenomena being questioned? To put it simply, I strongly disagree with such assumption mainly for the reason that watching of a movie in the cinema is a completely different experience from the one we have when watching it on computers at home. Let me walk you through my logic. Let’s imagine a person who is looking forward to see a movie that is being released this week. What are her options? She can a) go to the cinema, or, as our news are trying to suggest, b) she can download it from the internet for free. But is that really the case? If she wants to download the movie, she certainly does not want to watch an illegally obtained, shaky, low-resolution, and hardly intelligible camera recording of the cinema show, does she? If she wants to use this channel effectively, she has to wait for the DVD release of the movie and then for someone to rip it and upload it. You see? She has to WAIT FOR THE DVD RELEASE. In this sense, the only ones who should be complaining about sharing of illegal copies are video rental providers that are trying to address this niche. How come we do not hear them complaining?

Anyway, back to the problem of why people do not go to the cinema. From my personal experience and observations, people do not go to the cinema simply because it is WAY TOO EXPENSIVE. The tickets are from 180 to 230 CZK (10-12 USD) and that is not IMAX! You can get almost 2 dinners for that price, assuming that you are not going to buy any popcorn or soda, because then you would have to add another 130 CZK (7 USD). Moreover, all that calculation is based on the assumption that you go alone…

I love going to the cinema, but under these conditions I go only for movies that are worth seeing in the cinema (why would I want to watch a drama movie or comedy there) and only if the reviews of the particular movie are good enough. Otherwise I just wait for the DVD release and rent it.

Anyway, journalists should just exercise more rational thinking so the public is not subliminally pushed to adopt incoherent concepts. Well, what’s new…

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