I agree with Nikki on Deadline Hollywood, Eli Roth doesn't care or really know anything about piracy, and he's blaming it for Hostel 2's box office woes out of ignorance. It made back its money which is more than he could have hoped for, and I figure he might have let the hype to go his head.
A couple of set visits and some masturbatory early screening reviews from AICN are not representative of real world audience reaction, and it's not like Hostel tried to be anything other than what it was - torture porn rather than a risky horror film.
To save you the horror of having to visit his MySpace page, Nikki reproduced the entire missive on Deadline Hollywood, and I've got to respond to a couple of these things to set the record straight.
However, piracy has become worse than ever now, and a stolen workprint (with uninished music, no sound effects, and no VFX) leaked out on line before the release, and is really hurting us, especially internationally. Piracy will be the death of the film industry, as it killed the music industry, and while it makes a smaller dent in huge movies like Spider Man 3, it really hurts films like mine, which have far less of an advertising and production budget.
Obviously the music industry is anything but dead, they are pulling in hundreds of billions if profit year after year, and while music purchases has been falling for several straight years, companies who monitor file sharing networks - the primary venue of music piracy - have noted that there hasn't been a corresponding increase in piracy at all. What's that mean? People are buying less music, but not stealing more of it.
Online music stores like iTunes are doing record levels of business, so we've already got a problem with this rant right off the bat. I do agree however that Roth's ignorance of the state of the music industry aside, the film industry is in a far more precarious position. In general, music gets a fixed return for their effort, whereas the film industry fails nearly one-out-of-ten times and relies on summer blockbusters to make up the loses for the year.
Note though that Roth admitted that piracy doesn't hurt the tent pole films anywhere nearly as bad as it does smaller flicks, so maybe it's not as big of a threat as they make it out to be. In fact, it is generally recognized (even though you need to get this acknowledgement at gun point) that physical DVD bootlegging outside the United States are responsible for the overwhelming majority of film piracy.
Most of that happens over seas, even though a studio print of Hostel 2 made its way onto the streets a couple of weeks before it hit the theaters.
The excuses for stealing abound, though the most popular one I hear is that people who pirate weren't going to go see it in the theater, nor would they buy the DVD either, so there's not really a lost sale at stake. Yet those same people cower when you challenge them to have the balls to try stealing it from a store where their ass is actually at risk.
Pardon the rant of my own, I absolutely feel sympathy for Roth and the studio being ripped off, but I harbor my own doubts as to the reason Hostel 2 didn't meet Roth's expectations. Put simply, it was too gross to do solid business.
Studios feel the public doesn't want them any more, and so they are only putting PG-13 films into production. The only way to counter this perception is to get out there and support R-rated horror.
This is true to a degree, studios are putting mostly PG-13 films into production, but for good reason: they sell. R-rated films eliminate younger audiences (for good reason) and when you do that, you're going to make less money. It's the nature of the business, it's the same reason nobody makes NC-17 films if they can possibly avoid it - fewer people can get in to see them. And there's nothing wrong with that, and I don't believe studios are doing it because people don't want horror. It just so happens that people want more family entertainment, not less horror.
Nor is Hostel 2 horror. If you have lots of funny jokes in a horror film, at some point it becomes a comedy. If you go past a certain point with gore and violence, you've left the realm of horror (which is to scare) to something entirely new, and you've instantly cut down on your potential audience. If there are fewer people that want to see horror, how many fewer are there that want to see torture porn?
I don't blame Roth for being bummed, but he can't just shrug off reality and blame it on piracy. Hostel is two steps beyond Saw and really exists to exploit the torture and gore, and it pays the price for serving that very narrow segment of the public.
People love the movie, and even though it only cost $10 million dollars (as opposed to the other summer tentpoles which cost $300 million), and has already earned its money back, if it's not a massive money earner then they'll just continue to make the same PG-13 films everyone complained about a few years ago.
Again, reality differs in opinion. Saw has its fourth installment coming out this fall and I don't know whereas it plans to stop anytime soon. Same fundamental source genre, same low budgets, but not stepping over the line like Hostel does - it makes money. The first two films combined cost less than Hostel 2 did to make, and brought in about $100 million in box office revenue.
People want horror, it appears they just don't want Eli Roth's brand.