What follows is an excerpt of the results of a longer paper on The Effect of Increased Availability of Online Piratable Copies of Films on Box Office Revenue. The availability of screener copies online almost immediately for films released late in the year provides an exception to the rule of normal windowing, and the paper attempts to exploit this anomaly to discover whether the immediate availability of high quality piratable copies of films still in theaters affects box office revenue.
The films were first broken into two groups by year of release: Group 1 (1990-2002) and Group 2 (2003-2015. The groups were chosen to delineate between periods of growth in Internet film piracy, specifically the development of the protocol BitTorrent in 2003 (Dahaner and Waldfogel 2012). Before BitTorrent, film piracy via the Internet was more difficult because the large file sizes made it inconveniently slow. The new protocol, however, allows for much faster transfer of large files making downloading movies more feasible. These groups were then subdivided by month and the mean worldwide box office revenue number for each month was calculated. The result of these calculations is seen in Chart 1.
Recall that the relationship sought is the difference in revenue for end of year movies as piracy became more prevalent. The data do indeed show a decrease in revenue from November to December, but a drop occurred during between those months in both time periods. The magnitude of the change is especially relevant to this analysis; the change for each time period is shown in the table below.