Down in front!

We decided to spend an evening watching a DVD.  I went to a curbside dealer whose discs usually work in our computer, unlike other sellers whose movies turn out to be duds.  I picked an action flick that looked like it would be good, remembering that it had gotten some good reviews recently.

Liz and I turned it on, took off the Chinese subtitles (standard on every movie here), and watched the opening sequence.  The visual quality seemed a little off, but fair enough for a 75-cent movie. The sound quality was very good.

About 3 minutes into the movie, some people-like silhouettes encroached across the bottom of the screen.  Strange cinematic effects, I thought.  They didn’t seem to have any relation to the action on screen.

That’s because they turned out to be real people that inadvertently walked into the movie screening late as somebody was videotaping the film in the movie theater!  This turned out to be a genuine pirated DVD of ‘Iron Man,’ which has been released in theaters for less than a month.  We marvel at the production line associated with the piracy industry- they get slick official looking movie jackets printed up to sell the DVD’s in, and equip them with a full array of Asian language subtitles.  They seem to turn up just a few weeks after the official release in the US.  As time goes on, they get their hands on better quality DVD’s, and replace the clumsy movie-theater tapes with higher quality digital versions.  The price then sometimes goes up to $1.50.

Our friend expressed he has no reserves about buying pirated discs.  "Why should I have to pay $12 to see any movie in the theater regardless of how much it cost to produce?  Some cost $100 million, some just a half million.  Where did the free market go?  Obviously the studios take plenty of profit from the box offices, so I’m fine saving my money this way."

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2 Responses to “Down in front!”


  1. 1 Lydia S Lui June 9, 2008 at 3:24 am

    This topic is starting to be scary territory for me, considering my interest of late in copyright law. . . ! I’ll try not to lecture, but honestly it takes a lot more money to make a movie than the studios may ever recover from box office sales. So, even if it appears that the studios make a billion dollars on a film, it really isn’t even close to that. And for one movie that makes a billion, there are many more that fail to recoup what was spent on production (not to mention royalties for persons such as the studio musicians (whose jobs are being sent to the Czech Republic) and the writers or costumers). . . anyway, you get my drift.

    That being said, I certainly wouldn’t spend $12 to see a movie in a theater. . .

  2. 2 jmliz June 9, 2008 at 6:28 am

    Well stated Lydia. I too don’t feel like it’s fair to the production companies to turn years of hard work into a 75-cent movie ticket. The price of movie tickets at the US box office is a separate issue. China unfortunately has not cracked down on movie piracy as well as it could, even though it’s a ‘high priority’ according to my copyright lawyer landlord.

    There are DVD shops all over town selling pirated discs by the hundreds, and no one does anything about them. Retail stores seem to offer official copies of movies, but even then we’re sometimes not sure about them. Locals won’t buy them though, even if it’s just a few dollars more, because of the cultural emphasis on saving money. Plus, a few dollars here is a significant sum of money. Overall, the issue has a lot of sides that need to be addressed. Thanks for pointing out that it’s not quite so simple as our friend perceives it!

    JM


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