There’s a lot of chatter going on about Cameron’s new movie, Avatar.
Much has been said about the special effects and the filming techniques, but I’d like to focus on the box office results. Yes, it’s on its way to beat Titanic and become the #1 box office hit, ever. In its fourth weekend in cinemas, Titanic grossed about 28M dollas; Avatar grossed 48 million. It’s up to a 1.3 Billion total already, and shows no signs of slowing down.
And all this despite currently being the most downloaded movie on Peer to Peer networks. Oddly enough, the movie industry is not complaining much. Why?
Well, first, because the movie is only any good if you strap some 3D glasses on. Otherwise it’s little different from Star Wars. If you do watch the 3D version, it becomes much more than a movie. It becomes an experience, something you can’t possibly match at home. Not even with a full blown home theatre system, let alone on the measly screen of a laptop.
So all those people downloading the crappy pirate version are in for a disappointment. And then comes the kicker.
Thanks to a brilliant marketing effort that masterfully leveraged the power of social media, anyone who uses Facebook, MySpace or Twitter (and that’s like 400M people) knows that Avatar is all about the 3D. Everyone whose friends use social networks knows that Avatar is all about the 3D. The message spread far and wide.
So all those P2P downloads of the horrible pirate version actually become the Free part of an awesome Freemium model. You watch it on the laptop. It’s crap. But everyone raves about how great it looks on the big screen, especially in 3D. And you look back and wonder “Well, it does have some sweet scenery”. Next thing you know, not only are you taking your sweetheart to see Avatar at the movies, you’re also forking out a few more bucks for the 3D glasses.
Again, a product whose quality is impossible to replicate beats piracy.
So chalk one up for marketing, social media, and James Cameron.
And let’s hope the movie industry as a whole learns something from this.