The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
on entertainment and media

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Sony's sweeping piracy dodge for 'This Is It'

October 28, 2009 |  1:41 pm


There's another reason why Sony is opening Michael Jackson's "This Is It" concert film nearly everywhere around the world at the same time: To dodge America's indefatigable, camcorder-wielding pirates.

In a piece published by London's Times Online, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman Michael Lynton says that video piracy is a key factor in Sony's simultaneous release: "If Sony released [the film] only in the U.S. on Wednesday, by late Thursday it would be Camcorded, uploaded onto the Internet, and available free to anyone with a broadband connection."

He goes to say that online theft not only siphons "billions of dollars" out of the marketplace, but contends that piracy is largely responsible for why Hollywood is scaling back on film production. (I guess if you're the head of Sony Pictures, you can't possibly ever put any blame on the dramatic drop off of, ahem, Blu-ray DVD sales.)

At any rate, Lynton concludes his argument with an alarming statistic (at least alarming for anyone to makes a living making movies), saying that "last year the leading Hollywood studios made 162 films -- more than 40 fewer than 2006, and the lowest number in a decade." Yikes!

Photo: Michael Jackson fans at Tuesday night's premiere of "This Is It" at L.A. Live. Barbara Davidson  / Los Angeles Times