Archive for October, 2011:

The Future Of The Cinema

Every so often we hear that the cinema is dieing, that video / DVD / 3D TVs / Pay Per View /NetFlix is going to kill it.  Well, so far this hasn’t happened, but the death of the cinema seems inevitable to me.  Before every film in the cinema these days we get an advert telling us how great an experience watching a film in the cinema is, and how bad pirated DVDs are – yet for every downside of pirtated DVDs they describe (fuzzy pictures, people talking, poor viewing angle, people getting up in front of you) I’ve seen the problem in the cinema.

Sure, Cinema could be good – and sometimes its exactly the way you want to watch a film – but often you are at the mercy of poorly skilled technicians who don’t care that much about how good your movie going experience is.  One day, the cinema will die.

Unless, that is, film distributors follow my plan:

1) Say “screw you” to the multiplexes.

2) Set up their own cinemas (or buy up the multiplexes)

3) Don’t charge people to see films (or charge very low prices)

Great plan, right?  Except its lacking a bit in monetization.

Well, from what I can tell, when you have a break out movie smash hit, you don’t make your money from box office receipts, you make your money from selling the pay per view rights, or the DVDs, or the tie in merchandise, or the product placement.  And when you’re a cinema, you make your money off the concession stand and the adverts.

What the cinema release does is build up hype around the film, and acts as a way to advertise the product – and to sell popcorn and Ben and Jerry’s.

So if the distributor took over the cinema, they could change the way movie going worked.  Specifically, the cinema wouldn’t have to pay to show the film, and the distributor could ensure everyone who saw the film left straight through a gift shop.

Through a gift shop?  Well, it seems to work for museums.  You get people leaving a movie, hyped up on adrenaline and sugary snacks (we would keep the concession stands – we could even jack the prices up a bit more given that no one is paying for a ticket).  You could put the toilets on the side of the gift shop furthest from the exit (meaning that people waiting for friends have to hang around in the shop looking at all the wonderful things to buy) and you could sell… you could sell – in the case of a Disney film, you could sell all the toys, clothes, jewelry, and nick nacks you might find in a Disney store.  With a chick flick, you could sell other chick flick DVDS – and maybe some action movies for boyfriends who feel they need to man up again.  You could sell the products that are placed in the films.  And you could sell the film itself – either as a one off pay per view code – or a DVD or an iTunes voucher or whatever – because we can now release the DVD at the same time as the movie is released.

And, of course, you don’t have to come to the cinema to buy the DVD – you can get it in shops too – but you may as well come and see it on the big screens (to make it more of an event, why not have special previews, and event nights)

What I’m talking about is making the cinema an Apple Store for a distributor or production company.

Meanwhile there is still a place for independent cinemas – they would show small, art house, films and have people who care about cinema running them.  But they could sell DVDs on exit too – after all, for those cinemas, their patrons care about seeing the film on the big screen.