An Australian consumer group has warned of "48 days of piracy", and asked movie-goers to protest media company Village Roadshow's decision to delay the release of 'The LEGO Batman Movie'.
The hugely anticipated spin-off from the 2014 hit 'The LEGO Movie' has already been released in the U.S. and other key markets, but Australian movie-goers will have to wait until March 30 to see the film ... legally.
Consumer group CHOICE says this is a huge mistake, and a mistake that Village Roadshow has not only made before, but made with a related movie, despite having promised not to make the same mistake ever again.
The release of 2014's 'The LEGO Movie' was also delayed in Australia, in order to release the movie closer to school holidays. That decision has now been acknowledged by all parties involved as being a catastrophe for the movie's Australian box office, with many Aussies tired of waiting for the official release of the movie deciding to go down the piracy route. The move was estimated to have lost Village Roadshow $3.5 to $5 million in lost sales.
This promoted Village Roadshow co-founder and anti-piracy advocate Graham Burke to promise to learn from the problems caused by the delayed release of 'The LEGO Movie'.
"We made one hell of a mistake with [The Lego Movie]," Burke told an audience at the Online Copyright Infringement Forum in 2014.
"We held it for a holiday period, it was a disaster. It caused it to be pirated very widely. And as a consequence: No more. Our policy going forward is that all of our movies will release day and date with the United States."
Unfortunately, Village Roadshow appears to have reverted back to their original policy, with 'The LEGO Batman Movie' being released in 42 other countries before it's available down under. The fact that this movie was actually made in Australia, seems to rub more salt into the wound.
As a result, CHOICE is asking angry Australians to let Village Roadshow know how they feel about being shafted once again. The consumer group is asking people to express their discontent on Village Roadshow's Facebook page, to the media company's Twitter account, or via email.
For CHOICE, the solution to the piracy problem lies not with legislation that Village Roadshow and others have been demanding, but closer to home.
"Village Roadshow has demanded that the government introduce legislation to protect its old-school business model, including new excessive website blocking powers, but it's not taking the most simple action it can to reduce piracy," says Sarah Agar, manager of consumer policy at CHOICE.