Frustrated with what they see as the world’s biggest piracy nation, Warner Bros. Pictures announced this week an immediate ban on promotional and word-of-mouth screenings in Canada.
The ban includes Warner Independent Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures, and will affect the studio’s next release, Ocean’s Thirteen, as well as the summer release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
While the ban does not include press screenings, they will all now be held at a Warner Bros. private screening room instead of in theatres at large.
One gets the feeling that Canadian promotional screenings are just chock full of people making what I like to call thumb-movies (because of the dubious quality of the resulting recording). It doesn’t take much effort to expose the numbers: Does The MPAA Simply Make Up Piracy Numbers Out Of Thin Air? I’ve been to a couple of promotional screenings here, thanks to tickets won through radio stations or through friends. They are quite adamant at these screening about not bringing in any recording devices. Plus, the promotionals are always packed to the rafters…I doubt that any useable quality recording could come out of a packed movie house. If I were a pirate who insisted on making thumb movies, I’d probably choose a midweek matinee screening after the first weekend, when the technical challenges presented by the mob are non-existant.
It’s much more common to actually get a movie leaked from an insider and then have the real copy spread around. However, the MPAA kept claiming (without any evidence) that Canada was a hotbed of this activity — accounting for approximately 50% of camcorded movies. However, now the same movie industry is claiming that New York City is responsible for 40% of camcorded movies. That would mean that only 10% of camcorded movies come from outside New York City or Canada — a number that hardly seems realistic especially given an entirely different report from the movie industry that highlighted how camcorded movies were happening in many states across the US.
Note that the reporter in the Globe and Mail story linked above doesn’t even question the Warner executive’s claims. Kudos to the techdirt people for crunching the numbers, and finding that either 90% of pirated movies come from Canada/New York, or some fudgery is afoot.
I actually don’t doubt that 80% of new releases are copied in Canada. Nor do I doubt that 80% of new releases are copied in Hong Kong, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, France, and yes, even the United States. Warner is using a feeble scare tactic simply to push our MPs into signing some bill or other. A shame that they feel the need to paint we Canadians as a country of criminals while doing so. At the same time, I doubt that the hardcore pirate is hunting the intertubules for thumb movies. They are hunting the intertubules for leaked critic’s prescreen versions. I wonder what geographic location (if any) is the main source for leaked prescreeners?