Remember how we described The LEGO Movie as “piracy bait” thanks to an idiotic bit of cinematic scheduling around the world? Looks like not everyone was listening. Disney’s latest animated enterprise, Big Hero 6, is the latest film to earn the piracy bait brand in Australia, given the fact that it’s set to be released here a full two months after its US premiere.
There’s no doubt about it: Big Hero 6 is something that people want to see.
The story of a soft, squishy robot taking on the world has netted Walt Disney Studios $US111 million since its opening in North America two weeks ago. Last week the animated film beat out Christopher Nolan’s space epic, Interstellar for first place at the box office. By all accounts, it’s an incredibly enjoyable film.
It’s the hot ticket in town at the moment, provided you live in the US.
The film may have already spent 14 days screening in the US, but here in Australia, we won’t get it until 26 December. That’s an eight-week delay. 56 days for those playing the numbers game.
Historically-speaking, what do Australians do if they can’t get something at the same time as their US counterparts? Well, a significant number of them pirate it. You only need to take a look at the consumer behaviour surrounding Foxtel’s stranglehold on Game Of Thrones to see how easily people take to the high seas of internet piracy.
The reason Big Hero 6 has a big hero-sized delay in Australia is simple: it’s an event movie, and Disney is holding it back for a holiday event in Australia. Boxing Day is a big movie day in Australia, with audiences flocking into cinemas to catch the latest blockbuster while simultaneously escaping Australia’s punishing December heat.
We saw the same thing happen for The LEGO Movie earlier on in the year: Village Roadshow held the film back for a significant period of time in Australia to capitalise on parents needing something to do with their kids during the school holidays. It’s a rational business decision, but think about it in terms of the Australian market which is rabid for content and alarmingly OK with piracy and you start to see the problem.
Village Roadshow’s CEO, Graham Burke, described the strategy surrounding the release of The LEGO Movie as “one hell of a mistake” at a recent government-run forum on copyright, and pledged to release all of its upcoming films day-in-date with the US to discourage people from pirating them.
While Australia has a bit of a wait for Big Hero 6 to legally land on our shores, it could be so much worse.
When The LEGO Movie came out in Australia, we were at the bottom of the schedule next to New Zealand. For Big Hero 6, we’re kind of in the middle of the pack. The content consumers who should be really mad about the stupidity of the cinema release schedule are those living in the UK and Ireland. They have to wait until at least 30 January, 2015 for the film. Also spare a thought for those at the absolute bottom of the calendar in Belgium, Sweden and France, who have to wait until 11 February, 2015 for the title to come out there.
Australia has it bad for blockbusters, but for once, we’re not the worst.