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07 June 2023

Beat the pirates at their game

By Bindu Rai

If you’ve lived in Dubai long enough you’ve probably been paid a friendly neighbourhood visit by the local DVD man. Every Tuesday our doorbell would ring faithfully, marking the arrival of a dubious bag of pirated goods that continue to impact the bottomline of Hollywood studios.

Annually, studios lose about $6.5 billion (Dh23.9bn) in revenues to the global cartel of bootleg DVDs. The internet and peer-to-peer software have also facilitated streaming downloads.

While a permanent solution is awaited, studios are now seeing the advantages of a same-week global release of major films, thus beating bootleggers at their game.

The close-gap experiment was successfully tried with Spider-Man 3 and Ocean’s 13, both playing in the UAE before their US release. Another is Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix, released in most countries within a two-week period this July, and bringing in $101.4million in global opening revenue.

Analysts say if a film releases worldwide within a 48-hour period, distributors can cut piracy losses by 15 per cent.

That’s an average of 27 big-budget movies released annually, multiplied by a standard box office earnings of Dh3.67m per film in the UAE. Clearly, Hollywood studios and local UAE distributors have a winner on their hands here.