“We made one hell of a mistake with LEGO,” Graham Burke says to a packed room of copyright industry watchers. “No more”.
That’s right: Village Roadshow’s anti-piracy crusader has wised up to the problem of piracy, especially when it comes to faster access to film for Aussies.
Speaking on the panel at the government’s Copyright Forum last night the co-CEO of Village Roadshow, Graham Burke, said that The LEGO Movie had taught the company how to give consumers the sads in Australia.
The LEGO Movie was piracy bait for Australians, given the fact it was made locally only to have its release date delayed by 54 days. That meant that by the time US cinemas were scaling down their screenings of the feature, Australia would only just be getting their turn at seeing it legally.
Burke, a staunch copyright advocate — who decided it would be a good idea to take the LEGO Movie out to private screenings for the government’s anti-piracy decision makers, said that the decision to delay the release of an Australian-made release in Australia isn’t something he’s about to repeat:
“We made one hell of a mistake with LEGO. It was made here in Kings Cross and because it was so important, we held it until the holidays which caused it to be pirated widely. No more.
“All of our movies we’ll now make all our movies day in date with the US. I know 20th Century Fox are and Universal are too,” Burke said.
While the Village executive stressed that his company would make films available faster on Australian screens, he stood by his business model of an exclusive “theatrical window” so as to ensure a title’s profitability:
“There has to be a theatrical window so the business can work so future films get made. It’s very simple: records and music cost somewhere from $30k to $300k to produce. Feature films can cost up to $200m. We need a window for the business model to work. Those that say solve the problem by offering them on digital downloads, that’s what music has done but the fact of the matter that piracy is still massive.
“As a consequence in music, there’s not a record store left. That was my Saturday morning joy! That will happen to Australian theatres,” he said, adding that Village is now dramatically revamping its pricing model to make the exclusive titles it puts into theatres more affordable.