Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In a losing race with the zeitgeist | Los Angeles Times

Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times has some interesting things to say about the falling position of the cinema in todays media sphere, and about the executives in charge who seem even more separated from their consumers than ever before.

"Hollywood needs a new mindset, one that sees a movie as something that comes in all shapes and sizes, not something that is wedded to the big screen. Studios have to do what record companies refused to do until they nearly went out of business: embrace the future.

People increasingly want to see movies on their terms, today on a big TV at home, tomorrow on an iPod or cellphone. It breaks my heart that people have fallen out of love with movie theaters, but if I were king, I'd start releasing any movie with multi-generational appeal on DVD at the same time it hit theaters, so the kids could get out of the house and the parents could watch at home.

The music business has already adopted this two-tier system, selling downloads and CDs simultaneously. TV networks are starting to do the same thing with their shows. It's only a matter of time before movies are forced to do the same. The day isn't far away — desperation being a great motivator for innovation — when a studio opens a blockbuster on Friday in theaters and on Saturday on pay-per-view (at $75 a shot) so fans could watch it with a bunch of friends at home."

It will happen. I'm no fan of HD at this moment, but the fact is that will take over the top end of video distribution. When it does and the average punter has set up their own personal cinema room, complete with widescreen or projector, surround sound system and comfy chairs, what need do they have for going out and paying all that money? Despite today's symbolic victory over download movie piracy (As Warren Ellis points out, "This would be because’s search engine is shite and no-one uses it, surely?"), the more they try and clamp down on maintaining antiquated models of distribution the easier they make it for the pirates to exist. Until you start following the "Path of Least Resistance from Total Boredom" and giving users the ability to consume your product ON THEIR TERMS then you're just making trouble for yourself.

They'll get there. And those that don't will make a song and dance about the death of cinema, and get all nostalgic and weepy about their film and cultural history, blaming everyone but themselves. Yeah, that's it. Blame someone else. It's the modern thing to do.

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