As wonderful as it is, the Internet has a number of particularly pernicious traits, including an unfortunate tendency to make people addicted to free content. If the free content happens to be a blog post or a home video, that’s all well and good.
However, if the free content in question is a real movie, we have a problem. The production of even a half-decent film takes highly significant financial and human resources — civilians cannot even imagine just how expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive it is to make a film of any kind. And all it takes to destroy it is an illegal Internet upload.
Movies and the Internet do not get along and must be kept well apart. The availability of a film free of charge on the Internet massively reduces its value, and must therefore be fought strenuously and without compromise.
That piracy harms the film industry is self-evident, but what should be done about it? Here is how I would do it: keep movies off DVDs (and hence off the Internet) for as long as possible. A movie must only exist as 35mm film prints in the first phase of its life, and this phase must be as long as possible. If the movie only exists as 35mm prints, it is next to impossible to pirate it. Piracy only really kicks in when DVDs become available. Therefore the DVD release must be massively delayed. Make people buy those tickets. Let them buy tickets to your movie more than once, if it is good enough. Make people feel that the DVD release is so far away, so utterly unattainable, that they should go out and watch the movie in a theater if they want to watch the movie at all.
Bring back second-run movie theaters. Bring back double features. Squeeze a movie for all it’s worth before those wretched DVDs are released; exploit the movie until its film prints are so scratched and full of dust that you have to bin them. Then, and only then, should you release the DVDs. Of course they will be instantly pirated, but at least you made decent revenues during the long theatrical run. Tickets will have been sold and seats will have felt the profitable warmth of moviegoers’ buttocks.
Send a clear message that good movies are valuable and that people will have to pay good money for the privilege of watching them. If they are unwilling to cooperate, let them stay at home and watch “user-generated content” on YouTube.
There was a time when content was valuable, because there was no way to enjoy it other than by paying a decent price for it. The Internet is conditioning this generation’s kids to feel entitled to an unlimited supply of movies free of charge. This madness must stop. The movie studios should take aggressive and relentless action to defend the value of their output.