It’s only been a few weeks since we leaned Village Roadshow donated millions of dollars to Labor and the LNP as new piracy laws were passed. And a few months ago, a number of studios worked together to force additional block on a bunch of piracy-related websites.
If cinema revenues were suffering we might be even be a little sympathetic. But it turns out that’s not the case with 2018 a record year at the box office once again.
The Hollywood Reporter says this year’s box office, for the US alone is likely to break the 2016 record of $11.4 billion and could hit $12 billion by year’s end. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman and Bumblebee are likely to finish the year strongly.
Looking a little deeper into the numbers in the US, the story isn’t just about increased revenues. The number of tickets fell from last year but ticket prices are up and fewer movies have been released so far this year. But with pre-Christmas releases coming, the numbers should end up fairly even when it comes to the number of movies. The big news is that the studios are pushing ticket prices up thorough premium seating and other extras.
So, while studios are crying poor over piracy, they’re jacking up the prices for a night at the movies. According to data from Box Office Mojo the number of movies released has increased from fewer than 500 in the year 2000 and is now closing in on 750 releases. At the same time, the average ticket price has increased from $US5.39 to over $US9.
Movie studios have been fighting against unauthorised distribution of their content since the days of Limewire, before BitTorrent was established as the protocol of choice for distributing large files. But at the same time, revenues have climbed year on year with ticket prices rising. It’s little wonder that fewer tickets are being sold.
The other story that’s not told in the box office numbers is the revenue studios generate through digital and other media sales after the cinema release. I’m sure Netflix, Stan and others are paying a pretty penny to distribute those movies.