Roger Ebert Explains The Long Tail To The Movie Business; Supports Simultaneous Theater And DVD Release

from the good-for-him dept

Petréa Mitchell writes in to let us know about Roger Ebert's introduction to his 2007 Video Yearbook, where he discusses a bunch of the things we normally discuss around here, explaining why theater owners are wrong to condemn simultaneous "day and date" releases of movies in both theaters and on DVDs at the same time. He notes that the best way to see a movie is in the theater, but only releasing it there is a mistake:
"Moviegoers know that all movies will eventually be on DVD; they choose to go to theaters because they like that experience, but they can’t see every film that way. Imagine a scenario in which Landmark, say, sells DVDs in its lobby. A hypothetical customer buys a ticket to "Lonesome Jim," and on the way out runs into friends who have just liked "The Notorious Bettie Page." On an impulse, he might buy the "Bettie Page" DVD. If theaters limited themselves to movies currently in release, it wouldn’t involve a lot of inventory and sales space; it would be more like the CDs displayed at Starbucks."
That certainly sounds familiar. Ebert notes that the industry fought hard against the VCR, and yet now "the studios get more of their revenue from DVDs than from ticket sales." He points out that thanks to Netflix and others, there's a huge market for "the long tail" of movies, who benefit greatly not from typical blockbuster treatment, but in getting movies out to the people who want to see them in any manner possible. None of this is new or surprising -- but it's great to see it all coming from someone who the industry actually pays attention to.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Dam, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 10:19am

    Even If They Were Beat Over The Head...

    the studios wouldn't get it.

    But ole' Roger does, and they should listen to him.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Andrew N., Dec 21st, 2006 @ 10:34am

    Iffy Comparison

    I woudn't compare it to selling CDs at Starbucks since that has been a loser for Starbucks. They put a lot of money into it but didn't get much back.

    Still, I do agree with the principle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Michael Jones, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 10:59am

    I Disagree with Roger

    I go to the theater to see a movie (as opposed to watching the DVD) because it is there first and I don't want to wait. I can't imagine I am alone in that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:04am

    roger ebert should lay off the fatty foods...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Steve Kennedy-Williams, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:06am

    Already being done... sorta...

    In Seattle Landmark Cinemas has a small vending machine in the lobby that has DVD's that while not in current release are still in second release or art films that have a staggered release.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Tyshaun, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:10am

    cost....

    Let's see, currently I pay like $5.00 for a hot dog because the theaters say it's how the actually make money. Do you think their prices for DVD's would be any less draconian, and as a result, most people will probably just wait till they can buy it cheaper later and the theaters will loose money stocking inventory of the DVDs that won't sell.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    FatRoger, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:30am

    Re:

    I think he has a diet coke w/ the popcorn and bon bons, not sure why that isn't helping :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Jason, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:35am

    Strike while the iron is hot

    I go to the movies a couple times a month. Usually it is to see something that I really want to see on the big screen. Everything else can wait for netflix.

    I have to think, that if the theaters had DVD's of current release movies available, I would buy a lot more DVD's. If you could sell me the disc of The Departed as I walked out, I would have bought it in a minute. However, you make me wait 6 months for it to come out, I've forgotten how much I loved it, and my desire to actually purchase the movie has waned.

    I know this happens to me a LOT. I won't actually make the effort to buy a movie I really liked until I see it again (on TV or HBO or something).

    I guess what I'm saying is strike while the iron is hot... you'd get more money from me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    AMP, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:38am

    Re: cost....

    “Let's see, currently I pay like $5.00 for a hot dog because the theaters say it's how the actually make money. Do you think their prices for DVD's would be any less draconian”

    You could very well be right about that, it remains to be seen I guess. However, selling new release DVDs is a revenue stream that the theatres currently get now piece of. So anything that they sell them for is above and beyond what they are getting now. If they price themselves out of the market here, it’s their own fault. Why not use the DVDs to get people into the movies. Why not offer a coupon for 5% off of any new release DVD with the purchase of a movie ticket (or visa versa, etc???? That may work it may not, I have no idea. But I am sure there are many ways to do this well.
    Movie theatres a lot of complaining right now about shrinking revenues. Seems like it would be stupid to not take advantage of new revenue sources. Of course this ALL hinges on them making their theatres a place where people want to go and spend their entertainment $.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    AMP, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 11:53am

    Re: Strike while the iron is hot

    I agree, however I think this would only work if the Movie theatres had exclusivity say the first week or so of a release. Same goes for my previous post. If you can go across the street and buy it for less, then there is no reason to buy the DVD in the theatre. Of course giving the theatres this kind of exclusivity will piss off video rental and retail stores, while going a long way to appease the theatres. Or, I could be completely wrong.......

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    dude rancher, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 12:06pm

    here's a thought...

    I agree with most of the comments, especially #8.

    What if...

    the DVD was release on the same day it came out in theatres. 5 bucks to see it on the big screen, or buy it on DVD for 15 ... This would make it a win-win situation for both. The theatre would make money off the ticket sale and/or the DVD sale... but of course, wal mart would probably sell the release for 25 cents cheaper and there goes the theatre profits.

    and damnit, popcorn doesn't cost 5 dollars, sell it for a little less, come on now.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    yung joc, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 12:44pm

    to dude rancher...

    That is rediculous... nobody is going to buy the DVD without reviews of the movie

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Dec 21st, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    DVD quality torrents

    Now you won't have to watch a new film that was video taped by Ping in Malaysia. You could probably find yourself some quality DVD torrents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Elderly Cheeta, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 6:00pm

    Excellent Idea!

    As it stands you pay $7-9 bucks for a ticket, watch seven or nine 30-60 second commericals, a bunch more movie trailers, and then have to contend with couples bringing in their toddlers into R rated movies, twits that can't go 100 minutes without calling someone.

    Until the day some enterprising theater chain bans the rug rats, commericals, trailers, and a cell-phone jammer for an extra $3-5 more a ticket, then I think selling the DVD alongside the movie in the theater is the idea that has come out in a long time!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2006 @ 9:36pm

    #7, why be such a jerk? Nice way to take the discussion to 2nd grade.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    No Fat Chicks, Dec 22nd, 2006 @ 8:22am

    Re:

    Spoken like a true fat chick.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Rick Gilmore, Jan 6th, 2007 @ 9:28am

    Re: cost....

    god bless free enterprise. the market will dictate the "correct" price. Yes the theaters stay in business because of the outrageous prices they charge just as the distribution companies get rich from the outrageous fees they charge to the theaters. If the
    DVDs in the lobby are too expensive I'll walk right on by...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    jusacollegestudent04, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 5:15pm

    WoW!

    heres a thought...
    i go to the theatres for the experience, but you do save money by sitting home alone waiting for the dvd to come out...well i agree with #8 and #7 he/she is a dick...
    but im just doing a report for school thank you ppl you gave me a better look on how i see things...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This