And here's the fun bit: the film's producer, Cotty Chubb, has been active on the IMDB message boards where he's been connecting with fans and asking them about ways of monetizing their interest. Here's his opener:
Guys (you're mostly guys):Patrick Goldstein at The Big Picture summarizes some of the responses:
OK, so this last week has been fascinating. Terrifying in a way, but fascinating. A movie I worked on for two years gets caught in a financial meltdown and loses any chance of theatrical release.
Three weeks before the first release of the DVD in the US, a high-quality pirated version of the movie (or more than one version) hits the torrent and streaming sites, generates a fantastic response (lots of 10s and quite a few 1s, not so many 5s), a very healthy message board (more than a thousand comments), and no revenue whatsoever to the people who decided to take the US$11MM risk to finance it.
One streaming site I checked showed more than 32,000 streams. I didn't check the other dozen or so. There's no way to know the number of torrent downloads.
On the message board I've heard a lot of reasons why streaming or downloading movies is a good idea, why everyone concerned should be happy with the attention (and in fact I am grateful for it), and how it's the new real world, but I haven't heard how the folks that paid for the picture are supposed to make their money back.
No question the movie business needs a new business model. But no-one knows what it is.
So here's one question, expressed a couple of different ways:
Is there a fair price, fair in YOUR eyes, that you would pay for a download?
Hey, take a chance, it's only a buck?
People tell me it's great, I'll drop two bucks?
Here's three bucks, I can afford it and it's only fair?
What number seems right to you?
Or is it zero, screw it I don't care?
I really want to know. Most of you are fans of the movie. Most of you are thoughtful articulate people. Help me understand what you think and why you think it.
The responses have been fascinating, though I suspect they might also be profoundly disturbing to studio executives bent on protecting the windows model of releasing a film first in theaters and then on home video, all long before copies are available for downloading. Some viewers said they use downloading as a screening process to determine which movies they are willing to buy. Others suggested that studios embrace an iTunes model, with movies costing $2 or $3 to download. But everyone wanted the movies right away, not long after their theatrical release. And hardly anyone had any qualms about watching a pirated copy of the movie on the Web. It was certainly hard to find any enthusiastic supporters of the DVD model, since many consumers resent having to sit through the endless piracy warnings and trailer-ads that crowd the front of every new DVD.Well, there's a bit of selection bias: the folks there commenting are the folks who've already downloaded the movie for free, so it's unsurprising that they've few qualms about downloading things for free. But the upshot for the windows model is right. Regardless of what rights the copyright holder ought to have, or how morally objectionable downloading may be, copyright is essentially real-world unenforceable and practicable business models have to deal with that. Want to wait to release your movie or TV show in New Zealand in hopes somebody will buy the New Zealand rights? All the high demanders will already have downloaded it for free while you dithered. If an option to buy the download at reasonable price had been available, some would have flipped over to paying for content.
If there's any moral to this story, it's that a new day is coming to the movie business, regardless of whether it's prepared for it. "We've got to come up with a new model, because the old one just isn't working anymore," says Chubb. "You just can't fight against a model where the movie is available for free. People clearly want to download movies online, so it's time we figured out how to get some money out of it."
Part way through the discussion, the film's director, Gregor Jordan, pops in and rattles a tip jar. I'll be very curious to see how this experiment ends.