A few years ago, a Disney animation staffer who'd just return from Thailand said to me:
"You know, I was in Bangkok the day Chicken Little opened in Thai theaters. And the same day, I walked through a city shopping bazaar and bought this."
At which point, he held up a dvd box with Chicken Little artwork on it. "Ah," I thought to myself. "A pirated dvd."
Which, of course, it was.
So it's not surprising that this is going on now:
The 3-D animated movie "Monsters vs. Aliens" will release in China on March 31 on more than 200 screens -- all 3-D equipped, making it all but impossible to pirate the film with a video recorder, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said Wednesday ...
"China is the only market in the world where it will be shown 100% in 3-D," Katzenberg said, adding that after successes across the region with "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar" animation, Asia and the combination thereof is increasingly important to DreamWorks...
Lim Han Seng, regional director of sales and marketing for distributor United International Pictures Asia, put at 180 the number of screens on which "Monsters vs. Aliens" would show in China, mostly in Beijing and Shanghai.
China, which caps at 20 the annual number of imported films allowed to screen on a revenue-sharing basis, has allowed 3-D pictures to skirt that limit.
The reason that piracy is a big deal and ongoing cancer ... I mean beyond the money the multi-nationals lose ... is that it impacts the amount of work and amount of money that film workers ultimately get.
Less revenue equals less work plus smaller paychecks.
Not to mention the nasty way it impacts the level of residuals that flow into health and pension plans and film workers' pockets.
Every guild and union has been screaming about movie piracy for years. (A while back, IA reps were royally bugged by the "who cares" attitude of various representatives from foreign governments at a couple of overseas conferences, so it's not like government entities in far-away lands necessarily worry about this, or that they're going to waste much money, time and energy enforcing international copyright laws.)
My take is: theft of intellectual property will always be with us. The best we can hope for is to diminish it some. It's good that 3-D is slowing down the pirates. But they'll find a way around the impediments placed around them. They always do.