I missed a 2.23 Economist piece about the economic state of Hollywood. Probably because it ran the day before the Oscars and I was running around at the Spirit Awards and doing this and that. I read it thanks to a “movies suck in the early part of the year” piece that Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet posted today.
Anyway, a taste:
“By 2015 Americans will have 861 million internet-connected devices, such as games consoles, tablets, smartphones and laptops, up from 560 million in 2012. That translates into every American owning 2.7 devices.”
“Studios think they can make owning movies attractive again, if it is easier to watch them on all these gadgets. The big studios (with the exception of Disney) have got together for an initiative called UltraViolet, which allows people to store the rights to watch movies they buy in the cloud. But even boosters of the plan admit consumer behaviour has changed. In the future, more people may prefer to rent, not buy.”
I own six internet-content devices — two Macbook Pros, an iPhone 5, an iMac, an iPad3 and one of those little Apple TV devices that plug into the TV. I’ll very occasionally watch movies on the Ipad3, and more often on the 50″ Vizo via Apple TV. I don’t want to know about Ultra-Violet. I like owning Blurays and select DVDs, period.
“So some want studios to go further and get rid of the theatrical window (when films are exclusively in cinemas) altogether,” the article continues. “The idea is to let consumers watch movies at home for a higher price rather than trek to the cinema. Predictably, cinemas are not enthusiastic. Nor are most studios. ‘Movies are just too expensive for us to collapse the windows and effectively eliminate a separate source of revenue,’ says Alan Horn, the head of Disney’s studio.
“But some are flirting with it. Last year Lionsgate, an independent studio and distribution company, made Arbitrage, a thriller about a fiendish financier, available in theatres and on video-on-demand at the same time. Michael Burns, Lionsgate’s chairman, reckons it earned three times as much as it would have done otherwise, because it ‘found two different audiences’. But if one big studio did this, cinemas could fight back and refuse to show that studio’s movies.
“Few want to risk it. Poverty is awful. Have you seen Les Misérables?”