New Zealand’s censors have recently banned a horror movie Maniac, a serial killer flick starring Elijah Wood, from any kind of public distribution, claiming that it is potentially injurious to the public good. In response, the movie distributor said that the banning is an actual invitation to piracy and was right.
Apparently, the most obvious sign of filtering in entertainment is the ratings system, which has an influence over who can see what. For the New Zealand censors, Maniac seemed to be a sadistic serial killer. The Office of Film and Literature Classification came to conclusion that the movie is so disturbing that it shouldn’t be seen by anyone except for people attending specialist festival screenings. As a result, the film was banned from both theatrical and DVD release in the country.
Of course, the distributor of the movie wasn’t happy with the decision. He points out that Maniac is one the finest horror movies in recent years, which is proved by its selection into the Cannes Film Festival. Therefore, banning the movie beyond festival screenings can insult the intelligence of the adult population of the country and actually serves as an open invitation to illegally distribute the movie. If you take a look at activity of people sharing Maniac on BitTorrent networks, it won’t be too encouraging for Monster Pictures.
The United States, for example, is on the first place in pirating the movie with 18% of the downloaders. It is followed by the United Kingdom with almost 9%. New Zealand is third with 7% of downloaders, regardless of its small population of 4.4 million. By comparison, Brazil with a population of 197 million features the same result of sharing the movie.
Apparently, all the publicity over banning the movie has encouraged lots of Kiwis to obtain the movie in any way they could, potentially upsetting the stats. Taking into account that they have no legal way to grab a copy, numbers will keep growing unless the ban is lifted quickly.
Another interesting fact is that New Zealand has another kind of movie censorship enshrined in law – it bans parallel importation of movies into the country for a whole 9 months following their international release date. This system will be in place for another 3 years, but the restricted period might be cut to 5 months.