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Industry Execs Say Piracy, Not Joint Releases, Harm New Releases the Most

Jeff Kotuby

For all the talk of simultaneous releases hurting new film releases, industry execs seem more concerned about an old threat damaging early returns.

A report by Deadline highlighted a recent CinemaCon panel titled, “Globally Speaking: A Look at the International Market” that featured many high-ranking industry officials, like Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger, Universal Pictures international president Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, Cinépolis CEO Alejandro Ramírez Magaña, and Paramount Pictures international theatrical distribution president Mark Viane.

During the panel, Magaña cited a study saying that “close to a third” of surveyed individuals watched Disney’s latest Marvel Studios release, Black Widow, on a pirated website — and cites simultaneous releases as a reason it’s easier than ever to pirate films.

“Day-and-date allows pristine copies to be made in all available languages,” he said. “Pirates are making a lot of money with day-and-date releases. The big losers here are [the studios and] us.”

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Piracy has always been a thorn in the side of media execs, now in the digital age more than ever. What was once a chore to sneak in a movie camera and record a theater’s screen as other moviegoers cough and chat throughout the film is now as easy as pulling up the film on your streaming service of choice and recording your screen. Gone are the days of the cheap, knockoff VHS tapes and DVDs outside your local supermarket that you had to hope were of watchable quality. Now, it’s as if you were watching the film legitimately.

We’ve discussed piracy as it pertains to streaming services in the past, and the main idea there holds true here — if you make movies accessible and affordable, piracy will diminish. The advent of ad-supported streaming services like HBO Max and Peacock, along with free ad-supported platforms like [plutoTV], tubi, and Crackle can help to curtail piracy, as those who just want to watch the shows and movies on their mind will go to a convenient, legitimate platform rather than a messy pirate site.