While I was in church,Fahim went DVD shopping. He bought some Hindi movies, some North American movies.
For the most part, they’re pirated. There are stores that sell pirated DVDs. These are not bought and sold in back alleys or from sidewalk peddlers. Pirated everything is big business here. Consider the price difference – $30 US for a legal DVD compared to 300 LKR for a pirated. Consider also that the average monthly wage here is significantly lower than in the US or Canada. This is, after all, considered a third world country. To pay that much for a DVD – $30 US – represents a significant portion of a person’s monthly income. Consider that we’re paying $130 US for a 1500 square foot three bedroom upper floor of a home.
Am I condoning piracy? No. But I also think that the Hollywood companies who try to market movies and DVDs here need to rethink things. Fahim told me that, a few years ago, an organization tried to convince the Hollywood companies to lower prices, that it would mean more people would buy the legal instead of the pirated. The Hollywood companies refused on the grounds that this is how much people pay in North America. Well, the income of the typical North American is probably ten or twenty times higher than the income of the typical Sri Lankan. (Editor’s Note: According to Encyclopedia Brittanica 2004 digital version, per capita income in the US is in the neighborhood of over $30,000 US per year, while per capita income in Sri Lanka is about $850 US per year – so actually US income is 35 times higher than Sri Lankan. Bite me, Hollywood.) So Sri Lankans continue to buy pirated.
Some of the pirated movies are still in the theatres in North America. Charlie’s Angels 2, for one example. There are three different types of pirated movies – those that are filmed with a video camera in the theatre. Sound quality isn’t great – you get to hear the audience laughing, and sometimes, you can’t hear the dialogue, or understand it. Picture quality isn’t great – sometimes out of focus, sometimes at an angle, sometimes tops, bottoms, or sides are cut off. Well, what do you expect for a $3 movie? Another one is a copy of a pre-release version that someone from the studio sold to the pirates. The version may be different, it may end different, it may have scenes added or cut out. And the third is for movies that have already been released on dvd in the US or Canada or Europe – if only for rental. Direct copies of the original dvd. But these ones, you can’t get until the movie has gone to dvd in other parts of the world.