Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Last Picture Show?

An article in today's Wall Street Journal caught my interest. Headlined, "Hollywood Studios Seek Control Over Delivering Movies to Homes." The gist is this: studios will allow consumers to watch newly released films in their own homes (in HD).

On the surface this is really interesting, and for a moment I was even excited about the prospect. But then I began thinking, don't we already watch films in our own homes and we call it television? Or Netflix or something.

As I thought more about it, I began to see it as yet another way Hollywood is trying to prop up its sagging industry. They sugar coat it with nice packaging- but you know it's just another way for them to gouge us for more money.

How would they price it? If it's $10 to go to the movies per person- then a living room full of people watching on your monster TV is worth what?

The other thing it got me thinking was what would it do to the theater business (as if big business really cares what happens to the little guy)? I could see a lot of jobs disappearing. Already the independent theater owner is a thing of the past. Now what the ticket taker kid making $7 an hour?

How would they prevent bootlegs?

I don't have a definitive thought on it, but while it seems like a good idea, I can imagine more harm than good coming from it. There will be even a bigger divide between the haves and have nots.

Your thoughts?
Read the WSJ article here.



Smokefilledrooms said...

Back since the days of Adolph Zukor the studios have tried (and succeeded for a while) to vertically integrate their business so they control the housing and distribution of their films as well as the production. More control over what we see and how we see it. Good Article.

Theresa H. Hall said...

There is nothing like the silver screen. I shall go to the theatre as long as it plays films.

Anonymous said...

As someone aspiring to make feature films and have them seen in the optimal setting, the theatre (preferably film projection), I have spent a lot of time thinking about the future of film exhibition. The first time I thought about it was a few years ago when Cuban and Soderbergh launched HDnet and announced plans to release "Bubble" in the theatre and on DVD at the same time. I hated the idea but still ended up seeing it on DVD anyway because my roommate purchased it the day it went on sale. That movie probably works better for TV viewing because of the scale and the nature of the project. Still, for awhile I was upset at the prospect of this imminent shift in Hollywood's exhibition strategy. But an idea eventually came to me that put my mind at ease and even made me a little excited. People will always want to go to the movie theatre just as they will always want to see live shows. There is something magical about experiencing entertainment in a dark room with strangers that people can't resist. Going on that assumption, the fall of Hollywood films being released into the theatre might open a demand for independent producers to fill the screens on a much more local and personal level. And then, there might be a resurgence of truly independent cinema and that is exciting.


Beth said...

I love my Netflix with my "I want it now" syndrom but nothing will ever take the place of a big screen. The first benefit is seeing the picture larger than life surrounded by sound. Second benefit is the social factor. It's like asking someone for coffee..."let's see a movie together". When people stop going to movies we will become compartmentalized and life as we know it will deteriorate. OK, so I've exaggerated a bit but seriously going to the theatre is more than the movie it's the popcorn, the people, and the discussion after.