And the primary reason for the film’s failure? Not its general lack of quality, or the fact that it’s an unimaginative rehash of the movie it’s a sequel to, or the fact that it wasn’t screened for critics (which drastically reduced the amount of opening-day publicity). No, Roth has determined that piracy is the reason “Hostel Part II” is flopping.
He writes on his MySpace page:
I want to thank all of you for your kind e-mails and incredible support for the film. However, piracy has become worse than ever now, and a stolen workprint (with uninished music, no sound effects, and no VFX [visual effects]) leaked out on line before the release, and is really hurting us, especially internationally. Piracy will be the death of the film industry, as it killed the music industry, and while it makes a smaller dent in huge movies like Spider Man 3, it really hurts films like mine, which have far less of an advertising and production budget. Not only that, critics have actually been REVIEWING the film based off the pirated copy, which is inexcusable. Some of these critics I have actually known for a few years, and while I wouldn’t dignify them by mentioning them by name, I know who they are, as do the studios, and other filmmakers, and they will no longer have any access to any of my films.
What about critics who reviewed the film the normal way, by seeing it in a theater? Can we get in on that “no more access to your films” action, too?
“Hostel Part II” is indeed available for download on the Internet — and so is every other movie currently in theaters. I’ll grant you that horror fans might fit the demographic most likely to download movies instead of paying for them in the theater, and that a movie like, say, “Georgia Rule” probably isn’t being pirated as much as “Hostel Part II.”
But still. How many people are downloading “Hostel Part II” who would have paid to see it otherwise? Most downloaders are people who are just curious about the movie and aren’t interested enough to pay $8 to see it. If it weren’t online, they wouldn’t see it at all. People who liked the first “Hostel” a lot will want to see it in the theater, where the experience is bigger and better. My guess is “Hostel Part II” has lost $2 million from piracy, tops, and $2 million either way doesn’t make much difference.
Roth brings up another subject, in passing, that’s worth exploring. “Piracy will be the death of the film industry, as it killed the music industry,” he says. Except that the music industry is not dead. What the music industry did when Napster appeared was, the music industry adapted. They saw what people wanted — digital delivery of their music, instead of having to buy physical CDs — and found a way to get them to pay for it.
In 2006, CD album sales were down 4.9 percent from the previous year. But digital album sales through outlets like iTunes more than doubled! The result: Overall music sales were 19 percent higher in 2006 than in 2005.
The record industry makes more money from albums than from singles, and most people download singles rather than entire albums, so the labels are still trying to adjust. But the important thing is, they’re trying.
The movie industry, meanwhile, makes pathetic attempts to limit piracy (pathetic because they usually target people who aren’t the source of piracy anyway), while making almost no effort to adapt to the new technology. Their “solutions” so far have included selling downloads of movies for ridiculously high prices, then appearing baffled when no one wants to pay for them.
Anyway, my point is, Eli Roth is a whiny baby. Love, Eric.
[UPDATE: The blog entry quoted, after being derided dozens of times around the Internet, is now mysteriously gone from Eli Roth’s MySpace page! Deleted by pirates, no doubt.]