Angry Robot

Massive Change

Many now believe both the music industry and advertising (scroll down to second entry) are on their way out. These are not the dreamy wishes of webloggers, these are opinions held by those in the industries. I’d add that Hollywood will follow them – in a few years, because of a) film industry mismanagement and b) innovation in consumer electronics, the movie industry will be 1. mostly about video and barely at all about theatrical exhibition, which will make it 2. a smaller industry that will be even more vulnerable to piracy. More on this later if I can get off my ass.

5 comments on "Massive Change"

  1. tv says:

    The arguments I’ve read about the record industry disappearing are pretty compelling, not to mention gratifying considering how over-priced CD’s still are after 20 years. I respect that real talent deserves to get paid, but I guess the reality is that if artists want the big bucks in the future, they might have to tour instead of just cutting an album and doing a bit of publicity. I just read that 2002 was a record year in concert ticket sales in America, so it’s a reasonable alternative for the artist.

    Given that concert sales remain huge, don’t you think theatrical exhibition of movies will remain a viable source of big bucks for a while yet? Free downloaded music gives the consumer the same experience as a paid-for CD, but video doesn’t give the same experience as watching a movie in the theatre. Plus going out to movies are such a part of our culture; it’s something to do outside.

    I realize that the movie business is grossly mismanaged – Stuart Little 2 cost $120 million – but I have trouble imagining cities without movie theatres.

  2. D says:

    I have a massive post about this that I”ve been sitting on for, oh, about a year – I guess some things feel so important there’s no point in posting them..? But I’ll try and give it to ya quick.

    All of the exhibitors went bankrupt over the past few years. Vultures are buying their debt & therefore control of the chains. One of the vultures also owns a fibre-optic company that is bleeding money (what with that tech bubble thing and all). Odds are he’ll move his chains to video pumped through the fibre — and the format everyone’s settling on for digital projection is lower quality than HD. Meanwhile, consumer electronic companies are pushing HD sets, cheap DVDs, DVD burners, etc. The studios are pricing DVDs lower and lower, and narrowing the window between exhibition and DVD/tape release. The next iteration of video disc will be HD quality.

    In a few years, it will be cheaper to wait a couple of months and buy the latest comic book movie and watch it at home at higher quality than in the theatres. Wait, that is, if you can’t pirate it right away: digital copies in theatres being, obviously, a nice side revenue for all those teenage minimum wage “projectionists” they have working the megaplexes.

    End result: no more people watching movies in theatres. It’s not the only possible outcome, but it’s much likelier than you might think.

  3. tv says:

    Wow, very, very interesting! I guess I heard some shit about…uh, AMC, I believe, not making a cent, but I didn’t really take the conclusion as being the end of theatres. But that’s pretty compelling stuff. Go vultures!

    I’ll have to read more about this. I had never even heard of, much less contemplated the idea of theatres dying.

  4. tv says:

    I’ve been thinking about what you wrote, and I understand that it might not be profitable to run a theatre chain. But do you really see the consumer demand to go watch say, Spiderman 2, on a huge (digital projection) screen disappearing? I just can’t get my head around it. Where will people go to have fun?* I guess there’s always over-priced sporting events, but sports franchises are supposedly losing a lot of money, too. I wonder what their future is…

    *I, myself, don’t find going out to movies much fun, but it seems like a lot of people do.

  5. D says:

    True, it’s the extreme scenario, I guess. My original argument was that the mild scenario still meant digital projection everywhere and bigger video/DVD revenue than theatrical, so it also meant “the death of film” in a different way.

    What you’re saying is that the social experience will outweigh the high price & low quality, and maybe I’m not so sure teens (and that’s who we’re talking about here, male teens, the bulk of the moviegoing audience right now) won’t find something else to do with their cash. Who knows, we’ll find out soon enough.

    You might be interested in this rant from Ebert that brings up the psychological effects of video vs. film.

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