May 2005  
Star Wars Wars

"Star Wars" Wars

The long awaited Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith , Came out May 19 with much fan fair.

I went to see it at 2:45 AM on the 19th and then once again at 6:30 pm at another theater, bringing along my two kids.

The true Blockbuster Film

Since it's release it has broken three Guinness World Records.

RotS raked in $ 108.4 million in North America, the second-biggest three-day box office haul ever, It did break previous box office records for a four-day opening, taking in $158,449,700 from Thursday through Sunday, according to the box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.

The Star Wars blockbuster has also broken the record for largest simultaneous premiere.

It was simultaneously released in a record 115 countries on May 19 - eclipsing The Matrix Revolutions which went out in 1994.

Revenge of the Sith was given the largest print run of any film in history by 20th Century Fox with 9,000 sent out in the US, compared to 8,517 for The Matrix Reloaded.

The film, playing on more than 9,400 screens in 3,661 theaters alone accounted for 68 percent of the revenue generated by the top 12 films over the three-day weekend.

The Dark Side or is it the Light Side

"Real this one is"

The day before the Films release Elite Torrents, a Bit Torrent P2P Site, was one of the first peer-to-peer networks to post an illegal copy of "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" before the movie officially opened in theaters.

It was an excellent copy, distributed in a highly compressed DVD ISO image about 1.5 Gig's in size. The film was clearly dubbed from an editors console with the time codes clearly visible across the top of the film. It was an inside job.

The file showed up online the before it opened in theaters not because of the work of an evil file sharer with Sony's latest 'pirate' camcorder in hand, but because of another Hollywood insider leak.

An AT&T Labs report says of a total of 285 movies AT&T researchers sampled on the p2p networks, 77% were leaked by industry 'insiders'.

The reaction

The MPAA and Press, had a field day.

The FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed 10 search warrants in the U.S. against leading members the peer-to-peer network Elite Torrents.

"Today's actions are bad news for Internet movie thieves and good news for preserving the magic of the movies," said Hollywood's top lobbyist, Dan Glickman, the president and CEO of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

I guess it never occurred to them that the file must have originated from somewhere first, Elite was just passing it along. I'm sure Kazza and Gnutilla also were sharing the file. But Torrent sites are just plain and simple, far easier to bust.

So the end result is the MPAA, and gov't agencies are just making a lot of noise, tring to scare the kiddies, and show how little there understanding of what's going on really is.

What's my point?

Well at first, my friends and I, we all were speculating as to weather someone in Lucas's camp deliberately leaked the copy. I mean it would be a fantastic publicity stunt.

The reality is any true Star Wars fan would never settle for a very compressed DVD copy. Most wouldn't even settle for 35mm in the theater, and pay extra to see the 70mm prints. So a bootleg DVD would certainly get collected, but not replace the real Cinema Event.

I must admit I have watch the Ripped copy about 6 times, but in no way would this replace my trip to see it on the large screen. And I wouldn't have gone to see it in the Cinema again, unless to Convert someone to the StarWars religion.

My point is, the leaked copy doesn't seem, in any way, to have hurt the Box office sales, and may have even helped convince people thinking about going to spend the $8 and see the real thing.

It's sort of like, would a Photo or Video of the Grand Canyon replace going seeing the real thing in person. It's more of a teaser.

A bigger trend

The MP3 Rush started in 1995 but hit in force till fall of 1999 with Napster. The rush really started with the News constantly chiming about how bad it was.

P2P video sharing has been happening for some time. Since at least 1996 or so as well, but with Revenge of the Sith 2005, this is the "official opening shot". The day when grandma and grandpa first came to understand that movies can be shared over the net.

More reading

Star Wars breaks box office records, May 25th 2005

'Sith' rules box office, May 26th 2005

Feds shut down network that leaked 'Star Wars'

Revenge of the Sith online

Movie insiders and file sharing