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An Explanation for the Box-office Flop of Oscar-winner The Artist in Brazil: Ticket Shock PDF Print E-mail
2012 - February 2012
Written by Mark Hillary   
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 00:29

DVD piracy in BrazilSilent movie The Artist may have won five Oscars last night, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, but in Brazil - a country of almost 200 million people - only 144,840 people in 51 theatres have paid to watch it, according to Brazzil Magazine.

This may seem like a terrific failure in the cultural taste of Brazilian movie-goers. Language is no excuse because the film has almost no dialogue. Many are asking the question why so few in Brazil have been to see the movie.

But surely the answer is obvious?

Walk down any major street in urban Brazil and there will be a guy on the corner selling DVDs. The going rate is usually three movies for 10 reais. That's about US$ 2 a movie. Now check out how much it costs to go and watch a movie at the cinema. I looked just now at the cinema inside the Bourbon shopping center in Pompéia, São Paulo, for a ticket for Hugo tonight - normal tickets are 40 reais (US$ 23.5) each .

To be fair, this is an IMAX movie and therefore a little more than a regular presentation, but even so it is a real ticket price for a movie that is on right here in Brazil in a theatre tonight.

So even a person who is fairly honest and doesn't like supporting DVD piracy has to compare 40 reais to watch one movie in the theater with 10 reais to watch three on DVD - twelve movies for the price of one.

This problem is also compounded by the legitimate DVD market, which is like the legitimate cinema, just overpriced.

The public in Brazil have voted with their feet. Water cannot run uphill... if pirate movies are a twelfth of the cost of the legal version then who will pay the "correct" price. Only those who want the full cinema experience, those who refuse to support piracy at any price, and those who managed to get a date with a girl and know that a pirate DVD will not impress.

I still go to the cinema myself and I like the communal, inclusive experience... being surrounded by that big Dolby sound and hundreds of other people all watching the same movie, but I don't watch every single movie in the theatre.

I bought a pirate copy of The Artist - and it was watermarked as a DVD that came from the Academy Award judging process... so one of those judges allowed their DVD to leak and be copied for millions around the world to watch almost for free.

The real answer to piracy is not to go out arresting the guys selling DVDs on the street, it is to make the legitimate route to enjoying a movie easier than buying a pirate - and good value. At present there is no incentive for anyone to keep supporting cinema tickets and legitimate DVDs when they are priced so much higher than the pirates.

Of course the argument goes that if everyone bought pirate films the movie industry would collapse - which is nonsense. It would just move from a model funded by tickets and DVDs to product placement and sponsorship - a process that is already developing anyway. Morgan Spurlock financed an entire film this way in 2011.

Services like Netflix are offering Brazilians unlimited movies for 15 reais (US$ 9) a month. Of course it depends on having good broadband, and many people don't have the technical ability to hook up a computer to a TV, but Internet-enabled TVs are standard today.

As this latest generation of TVs rolls out with tools like Netflix built-in and on the remote control, it will be easy to click a button to get any movie from a library of millions - easier than going out and selecting from a limited range of pirate DVDs.

And this model is affordable too... that monthly charge is less than half the price of one ticket to see Hugo tonight at the cinema.

The recorded music industry is finally seeing this, with services such as Spotify taking off and killing the illegal copying of music because the legal route is so much easier.

But it took years for the record companies to ever understand that they need a new business model - not more litigation. Let's just hope the movie business doesn't make all the same mistakes they did...

Mark Hillary writes about globalization and technology. That means sometimes books, sometimes he writes in the media, and sometimes he teaches MBA students at a number of universities. He's the CEO of IT Decisions, which is a research company focused on the hi-tech and IT industry in Brazil. To find out more about him, visit his page on LinkedIn -

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Comments (11)Add Comment
written by João da Silva, February 28, 2012

A silly article. I'm amazed that the author "sometimes" teaches MBA students at a "number of universities" (where at?). If in Brasil, I hope all his "MBA" students went to see the movie just to demonstrate that there are not "terrific failures" in their "cultural" taste (to their lecturer).smilies/wink.gifsmilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/grin.gif
written by Diogo, March 01, 2012

So even a person who is fairly honest and doesn't like supporting DVD piracy...

I bought a pirate copy of The Artist -...

That means sometimes books, sometimes he writes in the media, and sometimes he teaches MBA students at a number of universities.

A fairly honest man, that sometimes steals copyrighted material, that sometimes does this and sometimes does that...

Honesty costs?
written by pz1800, March 01, 2012
So let's get this straight: nobody in Brazil goes to the cinema because it's cheaper to buy ripped-off DVDs? In other words, the driver of honesty is financial? Or: why work if you can steal. If I were Brazilian I would be seriously pissed off at this imputation.
Frankly, I detest going to the cinema in Brazil. It is always too cold for comfort, and my fellow patrons feel they have bought the right to talk all the way through the film for the R$40.
written by João da Silva, March 01, 2012

Frankly, I detest going to the cinema in Brazil.It is always too cold for comfort, and my fellow patrons feel they have bought the right to talk all the way through the film for the R$40.

I don't know how long you have been in Brasil, but I understand your point of view. Though I didn't like the article, the author did mention about NETFLIX. I subscribed for it a month ago to avoid all the hassle you mentioned and I am enjoying it. I think it is going to wipe out DVD rental stores and a big threat to the cable TV. Of course, it is essential to have an Internet connection of at least 1 Mb (I have 10 Mb) and the image and sound quality is pretty good. They even Portuguese and Spanish subtitles they broadcast. smilies/shocked.gif

To All
written by wisemann, March 01, 2012
what else can 1 expect from a limey island monkey like mark hillary-ious......smilies/grin.gifsmilies/cheesy.gif
Reply to Joao da Silva
written by Ricardo C. Amaral, March 02, 2012

I agree with you Joao.

It's a very silly article.

He is talking about the movie "The Artist" - then he uses the movie Hugo to discuss the price of the movie.

This guy is mixing up apples and oranges.

In another 3 months you will be able to see "The Artist" on Netflix anyway.

Here are the prices for a first class movie theater in New Jersey:

Hugo - IMAX 3D Experience

By the way, the movie Hugo is in IMAX and 3D

Ticket Pricing:

Adult: $12.00 - After 4:00 pm
Child: $9.00 - Age 2 - 12
Matinee: $10.00 - Before 3:55 pm
Senior: $11.00 - Age 60+

IMAX 3D Experience: $6
Upcharge added per ticket (tax included)


The Artist

Ticket Pricing:

Regular Adult: $10.50
Regular Child: $7.50

Ricardo Amaral
written by João da Silva, March 03, 2012

I agree with you Joao.

Thanks, Ricardo. When I wrote the comments, I did remember you and your passion (which I share) for low cost high speed Internet accessible to all the Brasilians. It is just not for entertainment (like to access Netflix) but...but...but...for other purposes. I'm happy to observe that it is happening and the prices are falling, thanks to small Internet Service Providers. It is not very easy for them to remain in business, but they still do because they are innovative, their service very customer oriented (personalized) and operate with low profit margin. It is easy to deal and bargain with them unlike dealing with large telephone or cable TV companies!
To All
written by wisemann, March 04, 2012
i'm gay.
written by gringoDingo, March 10, 2012
"It is always too cold for comfort, and my fellow patrons feel they have bought the right to talk all the way through the film for the R$40."

You're being way too kind to the Brazilians movie experience. I've long given up the cinema in Brazil, because Brazilians simply won't let you enjoy it. Truly infuriating. I invested in a kick ass home system simply to avoid the bRazilan movie experience.
written by Rick_N, March 11, 2012
I would think that a lack of discipline in the movie theaters and the prices both contribute to people not paying to see the ever growing costs of the whole movie experience. I actually agree that if people want to stop piracy then they need to go to the source, not the guy on the street who suddenly came into a windfall because of someone else's stupidity or lack of regard for the artists who work hard to create the films.

If there is going to be an casino en ligne that I can access then I will gamble there when my bankroll will allow.

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written by adidas shoes, July 25, 2012
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