Going to theatres to watch films is a social habit and by the growing number of films doing business over Rs. 100 Crore, we can say online film piracy has not hurt this habit so badly as is projected.
In fact, the Box Office collection trend has shifted the business threshold for the blockbuster films to a much higher value – Rs. 500 Crore.
A good case in point here is the major Hollywood hits.
Any major Hollywood film that is released in India has its good print already available to download from the internet. In spite of that they do good BO business. The Revenant is a 2015 Hollywood hit that was released in India in February 2016 and in spite of that it earned Rs. 3.5 Crore in its opening weekend, an impressive figure for a Hollywood film in India.
Interstellar, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road were the five most pirated Hollywood films of 2015. Yet they were the major BO blockbusters of the year.
Similarly in 2014, again the most pirated films – The Wolf of Wall Street, Frozen, RoboCop, Gravity and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – were notable global BO earners.
Back in India, the country’s most expensive film till date, Baahubali, that is also credited with having the highest BO collections so far, had seen its ‘good quality’ print pirated online within no time of the theatrical release. Yet the film went on to become a favourite on the ticket windows.
People who enjoy free time with films will always do so in the theatres – and they like to do so in the first week of the release of a film – with family – with children – with friends. For many, cinema going is a social pastime with good picnicking experience. They make plans for it in advance. Cinema going, in fact, is one of the most routine weekend activity in all societies.
According to a Deloitte report, a film in India earns as much as 60% of its total BO collection it the first week of its release. And a good business, increasing BO collection of the major hits and an ever increasing threshold of the revenue minted at the ticket windows support this finding.
Yes, there is always this expectation that the film could have earned much more had it not been pirated online. But filmmakers should see that as an ‘opportunity cost’ that they need to bear because online piracy ensures an unbeatable word of mouth publicity with a global outreach that no marketing machinery can match.
They, in fact, should see it as an added advantage, because practically it is impossible to check and curb online piracy of films. If regulators block 100 sites, thousands more crop-up. And a server making some content available in India may be based in any country that makes it impossible for the law enforcement agencies to proceed in the matter.
Though there is no empirical data, we can say that online piracy with its buzzword around a film helps many to make up their mind about going to a cinema to watch that film.