ByPeter DiDonato, writer at Creators.co
A night owl that writes what comes to mind. You can follow me on Twitter at @didonatope or visit my blog at filmfizz.com.
Peter DiDonato

One of the biggest trends I’ve been noticing as of late is a certain excuse actors and filmmakers make for their movies underperforming. According to several media outlets, Lionsgate is blaming a leaked version of The Expendables 3 for the weak $15 million opening it had. The leaked version was supposedly downloaded 5 million times according to the New York Times.

In a recent interview, Chloe-Grace Mortez declared that the Kick Ass 3 movie was dead because of, once again, piracy. Apparently, Kick Ass 2 was heavily pirated before release, and this was supposedly one of the factors that led to its demise at the box office.

It’s interesting that Hollywood is blaming their consumers for these disappointments. If they did a little more research, they’d know why those two films did badly. Believe it or not, piracy was not the biggest problem.

First off, it is worth noting that the first two Expendables movies were rated R. R-rated action movies tend to bring in more of an adult male crowd, which is exactly the audience the series was aiming for. Adult males that grew up watching the cast’s movies were drawn to the theaters by seeing their favorite actors in one big gun-blazing extravaganza.

The PG-13 rating was partially Stallone's idea.
The PG-13 rating was partially Stallone's idea.

However, in a move that can only be described as misguided, the Expendables 3 cast and crew decided to aim for a PG-13 rating to widen their audience. However, their plan to make more money backfired when their audience rejected the toned-down rating. Adult males who loved the first two movies for their gritty feel were turned off by a watered down product. Teenagers who saw the first two movies with their parents got older while the product got younger.

The PG-13 rating killed the project before it was released, but it is much easier for Lionsgate to blame piracy. It is clearly difficult for them to admit their strategy of catering to a younger audience was a bad idea. Saying that it’s the audience’s fault rather than their own is pure stubbornness on the part of Lionsgate. The idea that PG-13 does not equal extreme success is too much for them to fathom. Even Forbes agrees that piracy is not to blame.

Kick Ass 3 is cancelled due to piracy too?
Kick Ass 3 is cancelled due to piracy too?

As for Kick Ass 2, the project was hurt when Jim Carrey refused to promote it because of its violent content. Plus, after certain events at the time, some simply did not want to sit through a violent, bloody movie with a heavy emphasis on gun violence.

It’s also worth noting that the comic series it was based on was received less enthusiastically than its predecessor. Kick Ass 2 was a comic that many said put story second and shock value first. Though they were cut from the film version, the scenes where a woman is raped and small children are brutally gunned down could have steered more people away from the film.

In a review of issue 4, IGN’s Jesse Schedeen wrote:

Kick-Ass 2 #4 is an unpleasant comic that features, among other things, the graphic murders of several children and the rape of an innocent bystander.
One scene that could have driven audiences away.
One scene that could have driven audiences away.

Once again, the stigma of the project before its release is too much for Lionsgate (and even Ms. Mortez) to fathom. Kick Ass 2 was based on a comic that many did not like and also lost the promotional support of its biggest star. Rather than looking at these reasons though, it is a lot easier to say that piracy was to blame for it.

In reality, piracy isn’t nearly as big of a problem as Hollywood thinks it is. People are always going to find a way to pirate movies, and even when they do, movies can still have great success. Just last year, the top-pirated movie was 2012’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It was downloaded an estimated 8.4 million times and still made over a billion dollars worldwide.

Top 10 pirated films according to Indiewire
Top 10 pirated films according to Indiewire

Blaming piracy is not only ignoring the circumstances, but it is dangerous for the industry. Just look at the video game industry: anti-piracy software prevents many law-abiding gamers from being able to enjoy their product. Many people with two disc drives on their computer cannot play the game they purchased because the industry thinks they will try to copy it. This, in turn, actually leads to more piracy. If people can’t play the game they legally purchased, they look online for cracked versions of it to play.

What is next? Will theaters be searching bags for cameras? Will people have to pass a background check to see a movie? Will Hollywood realize that piracy is merely a scapegoat for bigger problems?

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