Claims by the MPAA that illegal downloads are killing the industry and causing billions in losses are once again being shredded. In 2009, the leading Hollywood studios made more films and generated more revenue than ever before, and for the first time in history the domestic box office grosses will surpass $10 billion.
Nearly all the major BitTorrent sites have seen their visitor numbers go up throughout this year, and many of these new visitors are looking to download Hollywood’s latest releases. This development is a thorn in the side of the MPAA, movie bosses and some filmmakers, who repeatedly claim that pirated downloads are killing the movie industry.
Despite these worries, neither the ever-increasing piracy rates nor the global recession could prevent Hollywood having its best year ever in 2009. With an estimated $10.6 billion in consumer spending at the US and Canadian box office, the movie industry will break the 2008 record by nearly a billion dollars.
“The global economy is taking a major hit, and when these conglomerates that own movie studios are having a tough time, it’s at least one bright spot in the equation,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box Office said in a comment. “People are still, in 2009, going to the movies in big numbers.”
Hollywood is far from bankrupt and more alive than ever before. In the past decade box office earnings have increased significantly to reach this new record high. Of course this doesn’t mean that the lack of a negative correlation between piracy and box office ticket sales is proving that illegal downloads have no effect at all. It could be that the movie industry would make even more money if the plug was pulled on the Internet.
Then again, without any evidence the opposite could also be true. As many independent filmmakers have already experienced, BitTorrent and the Internet in general can be a boon to the film industry and a potential source of revenue.
Perhaps Hollywood should stop complaining and start to see the millions of illegal downloaders as potential customers instead of thieves. There’s a huge demand for online entertainment, so why not compete with piracy instead of spending millions of dollars fighting it?