IP and Law

Crazy Stone and piracy

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Shanghaiist has compiled a report on Crazy Stone (疯狂石头), the low budget Warner Bros. film that is both generating buzz and doing very well at the box office, despite its Sichuan dialect dialogue. Excerpt:
Warner Bros. is taking an aggressive and (we believe) unique approach in trying to minimize the effect piracy has on the release. Could it actually be working?

Warner released the low-budget (US$400,000) Crazy Stone (疯狂石头) in Chinese theaters on June 30. Less than two weeks later, the studio released legit copies of Crazy Stone on DVD, and they are reportedly selling for as little as 10 kuai in DVD shops throughout China.

The heist comedy from 28-year-old writer/director Ning Hao ... has become a surprise hit this year, earning US$1.5 million to date...

...Stories also said that somehow no black market DVDs of Crazy Stone were available during its first week of release (the real story here would be how they managed that). Bootleg DVDs are no doubt available now, what with perfect studio versions to copy from. We saw Crazy Stone at our local DVD shop yesterday for 7 kuai.

Considering that a Bit Torrent download of the whole movie has been available since July 12, and that pirate CDs are now available nationwide, one has to suspect that the real reason they managed to have a pirate-free opening week was that Warner did almost no marketing of the film, and there are no famous actors in it. Most pirate DVD gangsters probably took a listen to the Sichuanese dialogue, and decided that it would not sell, but now that there is enough buzz about the film, the pirate disks are everywhere.

Below is a trailer and music video for Crazy Stone, found via the Podcast Podium (播客宝典) blog.

There are currently 4 Comments for Crazy Stone and piracy.

Comments on Crazy Stone and piracy

as i understand it, WB's strategy for marketing for CRAZY STONE was largely 'word of mouth'-driven, although i think they were as proactive as any in getting press and media coverage. this explains the 'no marketing' perception, but the distribs, director and stars worked hard and did a lot of gladhanding in every city where it opened. this helped their box office -- it makes a difference to exhibitors, to local audiences, and this in turn made a difference to their bottom line. (compare to the US where it is all about media buys, and the studios don't need the junkets as much to ensure the success of the film.)

i would tend to agree with jeremy's assessment that the lack of pirated DVDs didn't mean that WB actively worked to discourage it any more than usual -- it more likely meant upon its release there was little market interest for a film that exhibited none of the typical markers of a hit chinese movie (no doe-eyed starlets, no flying wire-fu, no ego-inflated directors).

ironically, the filmmakers success in raising the popularity of the pic now means a bustling piracy business as well.

Ada, that sort of sounds exactly like what Jeremy said about its release and lack of piracy.

BTW: who the hell pays 10 kuai for DVDs?

10 kuai = $1.25

Sorry, Lucy, should I have said 'who the hell pays $1.25 for DVDs?'

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