MOVING TOWARD THE MIDDLE
There is one jewel of wisdom to be unearthed from this whole piracy issue (if you can believe that statement): Both movie makers and movie goers need to take a step toward compromise. But how to do that?
Why, by embracing the digital marketplace, of course!
It’s already beginning to happen: this year has seen a slight increase in the number of movies you can watch from home on the same day you can watch them in theaters. Most digital cable services that I know of offer “Same Day On Demand” (SDOD), often in HD quality, for smaller films that maybe aren’t getting a wide theatrical release, or films going straight to DVD/Blu-ray because they were deemed unsuitable (read: not profitable enough) for theatrical release. Pretty much the same deal goes for digital downloads (DD) through itunes, Amazon or similar online services.
I myself became aware of the golden shores of SDOD/DD last Halloween, when Fear.net dumped Clive Barker’s much-troubled film Midnight Meat Train onto on demand (for free!) BEFORE the film hit DVD. Not only did that viewing make me feel cool for catching a talked-about horror flick before most others had a chance to – it made me grateful to the studio for not trying to trick me into theaters and even persuaded me to watch Fear.net more than I ever would have done before.
This year, I’ve watched some films that were actually good on SDOD, including the Robin Williams black-comedy World’s Greatest Dad, and the homage to 80s horror flicks, The House of The Devil. And, after enjoying the experience of seeing both films in gorgeous HD from the comfort of my own home, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hollywood is seriously undervaluing this lane of the market.
Twilight hit VOD the same day as its DVD release. Needless to say, fans were happy.
Some other great films that didn’t get a fair theatrical shake but could’ve been great success in the digital market: Black Dynamite, Assassination of a High School President – and though it made big profits, the 50% of the audience that hated Paranormal Activity might’ve felt different had they been able to view it from their living rooms (as it stands, a PA sequel might turn out to be a flop).
Let’s just break this situation down for a second (in some nice, easy-to-follow bulletpoints):
- Movie theaters are already transforming themselves into a spectacle-heavy business (how many movies at YOUR local theater now come in digital prints, digital 3D, IMAX, IMAX 3D… how many more will follow suit next year?).
- Movie theaters can be very annoying (for reasons we clearly state HERE).
- HD TVs & Home Theater Systems are more prolific than ever.
Ok, some good points, but SDOD/DD rentals cost (on average) $6.99 per movie – why should you pay that high a price? I’ll tell you why:
- A $6.99 rental for you and a date is still MUCH cheaper than two movie tickets costing $7 – 12 a piece to see the same movie.
- At home with SDOD/DD, you can eat what you want, drink what you want, relax how you want – hell, not wear pants if you want!
- No one (except your family) is likely to ruin your movie-watching experience.
Still not convinced? Still think that $6.99 SDOD/DD experience isn’t worth it? Here some numbers to compare:
- The movie ticket price figure stated above.
- The fact that you’re already paying around $100 a month (or more) for digital cable, mainly for those four or five cable shows you like.
- Premium movie channels on cable cost an extra $15 a month per channel (in some places) for what is largely hit-or-miss viewing.
- For true HD movie quality you need a Blu-ray player ($$$) and either a rental service or ample $$$$ to buy those Blu-rays.
- If you think services like Netflix are the answer, that’s still $10-20 a month for movies that aren’t even in HD (unless you own a Blu-ray player); $50 a year for Xbox Live.
- The money you’re spending on rental services is going toward months-old movies – never that new flick you’ve been dying to get out and see.
So what SHOULD be the new model for Hollywood?