It was surprising a few months back, when Disney's new CEO seemed to actually grasp the challenges the movie industry faced in the digital age, and started pushing to simultaneously release movies and DVDs. It wasn't his idea originally, of course. Some smaller studios and Blockbuster Video have been pushing for the same thing. However, he was the first major studio head to support the idea. Of course, his colleagues in the industry aren't so quick to go along with it. The head of 20th Century Fox was out bashing the idea of simultaneous releases, but doing so in a way that should make you wonder where he's leading the studio. Studio Co-Chairman James Gianopulos downplayed the idea by saying: "You can never compete with free." It's scary that this is the person who is supposed to be setting the strategic direction of a major film studio -- because he doesn't seem to realize the industry he's in. First of all, he's already competing with free. It's out there. More importantly, though, of course you can compete with free. It happens all the time -- and you do it in one of two ways: (1) you offer something better and/or (2) you incorporate the free into your marketing strategy. With movies, both of these are easy to do. They can make the movie-going experience much more enjoyable. They can offer all sorts of extras with the DVD. Hell, they can offer the DVD to people who actually go see the movie for free or at some discount. To say that "you can't compete with free" when you have to compete with free shows a lack of understanding of just what marketplace he's really in.
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