Rightsholders believed that without access to mainstream advertising partners, pirate sites would eventually wither and die. Years later they’re still online, settling for less return per head but with increasing levels of traffic. Meanwhile, pirate site visitors that aren’t already blocking ads have to endure all kinds of ridiculous schemes promising wealth, wisdom, and whatever else pirates need these days.
But one freshly-launched streaming site is doing things a bit differently. It’s offering free stuff with no strings attached, and then actually keeping its word.
MFFWatchFree and The Pirate Pass
This week we learned that if pirates searched for specific movies on unnamed illegal streaming sites, they would find themselves redirected to a new streaming platform with something special on offer.
That didn’t sound particularly likely, if we’re honest, but with Armageddon Time (Anne Hathaway/Anthony Hopkins) and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Daniel Craig/Kate Hudson) on the search list, we decided to give it a go.
As we expected, no adverts appeared for the movies or the mysterious MFFWatchFree on the handful of sites tested, so we went straight to the site itself to see for ourselves.
As the screenshot above shows, a big plus on MFFWatchFree is the absence of in-your-face advertising. The downside is that almost everything else is absent too.
Armageddon Time, Hopefully Not Literally
Throwing caution to the wind, we took up the offer to pirate Armageddon Time, while we still can. The movie will play in New York Film Festival’s (NYFF) Main Slate this week in a 60th-anniversary screening event, so a quick glimpse would be timely, if nothing else.
Surprisingly the movie started to play as promised, preceded by what can only be described as a blatantly pirated MPA logo with a few bits missing.
After a few seconds of plain sailing, the movie began to cut out and then disappeared altogether. Similar tactics were used by a ring of scammy ‘pirate’ sites traced back to Canada last year, so we were wondering what lay ahead.
Reaching Out to Pirates
Luckily, this experience was nothing like that, nothing like that at all. What we have instead is a campaign by the Montclair Film Festival designed to reach out to pirates through the channels they already use. The last few seconds of the clip reveal an exclusive pirate offer.
Of course, nobody likes a bait-and-switch, so we were interested to see if the free tickets promised at the end of the clip are actually on offer. We clicked the link marked “CLICK HERE TO USE CODE!!!” and found ourselves directed to the festival’s ticketing portal. After dropping a ticket in the cart, we applied the code, and were given a 100% discount on one ticket.
Filmmakers and Pirates Appreciate Movies Together
Lucky free ticket holders should know that the festival takes place October 21-30 in New Jersey, United States. Since plenty of filmmakers will be in attendance, the organizers are hoping to build bridges between the traditionally warring parties, through their mutual appreciation of movies.
“We wanted to find a way to highlight the value of the theatrical experience while acknowledging the challenges the industry is facing in terms of piracy and file sharing,” says Tom Hall, artistic director and co-head of Montclair Film.
“This campaign accomplishes both of those things by inviting people into the cinema and The Montclair Film Festival, so they could personally enjoy what makes moviegoing great and hopefully join us in becoming champions for the theatrical experience.”
The campaign is the work of Goodby Silverstein & Partners New York