This past weekend Hollywood executives were celebrating as Spiderman 3 broke several world-wide records during its first few days of theatrical release. The receipts would seem to be indicative of a strong summer at the box office despite several months of sagging or flat performance. But while the studios can breathe a sigh of relief for now, another potential threat to their revenue is looming.
Several years ago, file sharing outfits like Napster ultimately forced a change in the music industry’s distribution model. Now some enterprising tech folks (or pirates, if you prefer) are using advances in streaming technology to force a similar change in the movie industry. In recent months, sites such as PeekVid.com and Alluc.org have sprung up promoting links to movies currently in theatrical release, allowing you to watch SpiderMan 3 right on your laptop without waiting in line or having to listen to a comic book fanboy next to you chomping on his popcorn.
Here’s a quick look at traffic to just a few of these sites:
Each of those visitors potentially represents a movie ticket not sold, a pay-per-view not purchased, or a NetFlix delivery not made. But since the sites themselves only provide links to content without actually hosting the content themselves, their legal liability appears to be minimal. And more are emerging. Check out OVGuide.com to see how many people are getting into the game.
One newcomer, bedroommedia.com, has posted this message on their landing page:
"bedroommedia is committed to an industry solution that will provide a mechanism to compensate artists that create the work you enjoy watching. bedroommedia would like to be part of the long term solution."
Translation: "Hey, movie studios. We can help you out, but it’s gonna cost ya."