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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Try before you buy works for me

19 November 2012

The movie moguls in Hollywood are up in arms about the levels of piracy that they claim are killing their industry.

Anyone these days can buy a new-release DVD or BluRay disk, rip it to an MP4 file and then effectively make it available to anyone who wants it via the many file-sharing services that abound in cyberspace.

"How can we compete with free?" ask the MPAA and, at first glance, you might be tempted to agree with them.

However, I am living proof that the MPAA's problem has far less to do with the fact their content is pirated than it has to do with the fact that their content is of poor quality.

Like millions of other Internet users, I've been patiently waiting for a chance to see one of the most Net-hyped movies of modern times: Iron Sky.

This is not a Hollywood blockbuster. Unlike the dross that the big US studios turn out, this movie didn't cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make.

This movie doesn't rely on a long list of highly over-paid actors to draw in the crowds.

In fact, a significant portion of the funding for this movie came from fans, who donated money via the Net to ensure that it would be made.

I believe that there was also about $15m thrown in by the Finnish government -- yes, this movie was made by the same country that brought you Nokia -- with a bit of help from Australia.

The premise of course, is outrageous. Nazis who fled to the dark side of the moon and set up a base there, just waiting for a chance to return to earth and conquer the world decades later.

On the weekend, while browsing YouTube for some other stuff, I came across a full copy of Iron Sky -- free for the watching, and in HD to boot! Naturally, I jumped at the chance to see just how good, or bad, this movie really was.

What a great movie!

As the closing credits rolled, I flicked over to Mighty Ape and placed a pre-order for the BluRay version in my shopping cart. This is one movie I'm prepared to pay the $40 or so needed so that "it will be mine!".

Although it's not released in NZ until December 14th or so, I can't wait to see it in real HD in my living room. It will be something I eagerly anticipate over the next few weeks.

In this case, the opportunity to "try before you buy" really worked -- because this is such a great movie. So why isn't it working for the MPAA?

Well on Saturday night, the wife and I rented a recent-release from the Hollywood movie industry. The movie was Sea Viper and it cost us $4 for an overnight rental.

We turned it off after a mind-numbing 20 minutes of bad acting, flaccid story-line and woeful cinematography. This movie (or what I could stand before giving up) was utter crap!

I've lost count of the number of utterly bad movies I've watched this year and most of them come from the MPPA's formulaic "movie machine". We have purchased very few of these "blockbuster" movies because they just don't live up to the hype -- which is probably why the studios are so worried about piracy.

People will gladly pay for a good movie -- either by going to the theatre or by investing in a DVD or BR disk. People will not pay for crap -- and perhaps this is why the MPAA is so afraid of online piracy. They only hope they have for selling so much of their poor-quality movies is that they're able to get the money before people have actually had a chance to see just how bad they really are.

While people may be willing to waste a few minutes of download time to nab a crappy movie in the hope that it may be better than they expect, none of them will waste good hard cash on the type or rubbish we so often see these days.

Full marks to the makers of Iron Sky therefore on a number of fronts:

Firstly, they made a kick-arse movie on a shoestring budget. It's an honest movie that doesn't try to be more than it really is and which is not afraid to push the envelope in so many areas.

Secondly, the fact that the YouTube copy has been there for several months hopefully means that they have faith that there are still honest people out there who are prepared to pay for good content -- even (or perhaps especially) if they've had a chance to see it for free first.

So Aardvark readers -- I invite you to go and watch the YouTube version and then, if you like what you see, go buy a copy for yourself and show the makers of Iron Sky that their philosophy is a damned sight more viable in the Net-age than that of the nasty MPAA -- who seem hell-bent on delivering crap and trying to charge a premium price.

Users are also invited to tender their own reviews of this great (IMHO) movie in the forums.

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