Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



Why Haven't Any Movie Studios Become The 'Fan Friendly' Studio?

from the makes-you-wonder dept

Copycense points us to a recent, if short, David Pogue blog post, in response to a reader question, complaining about the ubiquitous unskippable FBI warnings at the beginnings of DVDs. The questioner asks why the industry bothers with them, when all they serve to do is annoy legitimate customers (infringing copies cut that stuff out). Pogue makes an interesting point in response, questioning why some studios don't stand up to become the "friendly" studio, in the same way that newer discount airlines, like JetBlue have tried to become a more customer-friendly airline:
I don't understand why some movie studio doesn't decide to become the Good Guys of the industry. Get rid of all those annoyances, all the lawyer-driven absurdities, and market the heck out of it. Be like the breath-of-fresh air new airline (as JetBlue was in its day) or cellphone company (like T-Mobile, the only company that drops your monthly rate after you've repaid the subsidy on your phone). Dare to be different -- and win a lot of customer loyalty as a result.
There are some smallish indie studios that are sorta trying, but that's not quite the same thing. Part of the problem, I imagine, is the overall ecosystem. Studios can't become "fan friendly" without pissing off the theaters (even if the theaters are probably overreacting). Still, it does seem like this is the direction that movie studios should be moving in. While there will always be some who will automatically distrust the big studios, I would imagine that if a big studio actually stopped treating people like criminals and embraced a much more fan-friendly attitude, it would pretty quickly find that fans were more than willing to reciprocate.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:43am

    Theaters

    Studios can't become "fan friendly" without pissing off the theaters

    That's probably a reason they stick with "release windows," but there are plenty of other ways major studios could become more fan-friendly. Being less litigious against the general public would be a good start.

    I think their reason is the same reason the RIAA labels can't do it: they're married to their own business model, and genuinely can't see any other way to do it.

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    BigKeithO (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Bluray's Suck!

    We recently got a Bluray player at our home when we upgraded the AV equipment, we needed one to play 3D Bluray's to go along with the new TV. My wife and I had never bothered with Bluray before this, since we've had it we've started using it less and less. Between the constant stream of firmware updates it requires to even play a movie and the 25 minutes of warnings and ads (warnings, really? can't the player tell I've got the damn disc in the player?! It isn't stolen!) we are forced to watch before we can even start the movie we've decided it just isn't worth it.

    We've seen a few video files on the TV, streamed from the PC through the Xbox, and really who hasn't by this point in time? My wife comments that we should just download everything because it is just so much easier and we don't have to be treated like thieves every time we watch something. I find that a little ironic that she feels like less of a "thief" (her words not mine) watching a torrented show than she does by watching a legit Bluray. It is getting harder and harder to stay away from torrents with all of this crap, thank god Canada got Netflix! Now if only they would add some content to make it worth watching torrents wouldn't even come up as an option.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    BigKeithO (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:51am

    Re: Bluray's Suck!

    I thought I should point out, before I get jumped on by all the wanna be TAM's out there, that I don't actually torrent files myself. That doesn't mean that there is a shortage of friends who are happy to bring along a flash drive with some files on it when they stop over.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:58am

    To ask is to answer

    "There are some smallish indie studios that are sorta trying, but that's not quite the same thing. "

    Well, no, pretty much by definition.

    HD-DVD would have provided something similar to the DVD experience (which was something of a success) but the industry was mesmerized by the siren call of Blu-Ray which was essentially the same thing with AN EXTRA LAYER OF SHIT! ALSO FIRMWARE REBOOTS!

    Frak 'em. I don't even care about the *pirated* Blu-Ray crap, since that only encourages them (and also it's way huge. TMI, guys.)

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:04am

    I read somewhere that without the FBI warning, that you couldn't be punished for copyright infringement. Hmmm... I'll have to look for that.

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    TPBer (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: Bluray's Suck!

    I have to say the BlueRay torrents are all the rage. Every TV show usually has the BR option for torrents and increasingly movies are offered up as BR DL, Avatar looks great but the DL was approx 3.2 GB, but the end result was very good, especially without all that warning garbage.

    My new fav gift to give out now is a cheap HD loaded with high quality torrents that you can watch by just plugging into the usb port of any modern TV worth buying, sony is not on that list cuz they think if they just leave off the port you can't watch DL's what a bunch of morons. Samsung, Toshiba, Vizio (3 usbs), Philips all play these files quite well and I am sure there are more.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:14am

    Re: Theaters

    "I think their reason is the same reason the RIAA labels can't do it: they're married to their own business model, and genuinely can't see any other way to do it."

    Take the record labels licensing piece now take that and expand it out to along about 7 levels for the movies and TV shows.

    They are not "Married" to their business model, they are contractually (guilds, actors, distributors, etc) and legally locked (Laws they have lobbied for) into their business model. With contracts that go out years. They have set themselve up to be inflexible. For them to change course is almost impossible.

    Its the reasons Mikes arguments about them finding new business models doesn't make sense to me. They can't ...

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Bluray's Suck!

    but the DL was approx 3.2 GB,

    (That cannot be a native BD format file with the same compression (or lack thereof for audio) and color scheme as you will find on disk. If you had the same compression and color scheme as BD format it would have been a 20-30GB download. You're still missing something from the image quality standpoint compared to the BD, granted once you get past all the junk.)

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:23am

    In addition to many other reasons, I think it's harder for studios to attract business based on peripheral benefits like that.

    With an airline, they all basically do the same thing: get you from point A to point B. So, the peripheral benefits (no baggage fee, really friendly service) are can be real difference makers if price is comparable.

    With movies, the movie content itself is everything. I'm not about to buy a ticket or a DVD for a crappy movie just because it's produced by a studio that cuts out FBI warnings.

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Jaws4theRevenge (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:46am

    Re:

    I don't think that Mike was suggesting that being "Fan-friendly" is going to save your business if your products are terrible.

    Having a quality product should kind of be the foundation of your business model, no?

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Contrarian_Grump, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:47am

    The JetBlue analogy misses a vital point.

    No one cares who the studio is. Does anyone say: "Hey! Let's go see that new Warner Brother's flick." The movie content is the draw, not the producing or distributing studio.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Not when it is Pixar. (n/t)

    n/t

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re:

    And if the movie looks good, people are likely to see it whether it has an FBI warning or not.

    I just don't see the "fan friendliness" perks making a purchasing difference in the vast majority of cases.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Politics

    I see a similar opportunity in politics - right now both republicans and democrats are pretty poor on tech and IP issues. Some estimate as many as 12 million (voting) IT workers in the US. This is group that currently leans a little left, but is far from unified politically. There's an opportunity here. It would be a major coup for either party to really look at these issues as something that is relevant because of the impact they can have on other areas of policy as well, and take the time to get them right in such a way that really resounds with computer-savvy voters.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:08pm

    Re: Politics

    This would look good on the CPAN and CNN infoblocks:

    Now on Filibuster
    Senator Woz(I) [Incredulous Party]

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Keith, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    Re: The JetBlue analogy misses a vital point.

    Except maybe Pixar movies... All their movies are great and I will go see one just because it's the next Pixar movie. I know it'll be good.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: The JetBlue analogy misses a vital point.

    I turned off Wall-E and Up because when they got to absolutely ridiculous levels.

    Some boy scout is going to risk his life umpteen times to save some old geezer that hates him?

    A single plant is going to save society (who frankly were better off in their all-needs-provided robo-chairs)?

    Pixar has fallen a great deal lately.

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re:

    I doubt this is true, but even if it were there's no reason they couldn't put it at the end of the movie after the credits, where it logically belongs.

    I actually believe they think the warnings are part of their campaign to deter piracy. Such an annoyance.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Luxury and monopoly markets can't be analyzed

    by classical economics. You're forever going to fail if using *economics* to analyze legislated *monopolies*. Especially those with "infinite goods" aren't businesses as such, since profits bear no necessary relation to costs nor value.

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Politics

    Yeah, that would definitely be a major coup considering how tech-illiterate most of the voting public is. Talk tech/privacy/copyright to most people and they're all "he's saying words I don't understand, maybe if I just smile and nod he'll stop soon." Not really what you want from a speech as a politician.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: The JetBlue analogy misses a vital point.

    "I turned off Wall-E and Up because when they got to absolutely ridiculous levels. "

    Way to miss the point. While no one says "let's go see the latest Warner Brothers flick", people quite often DO say "let's go see the latest Disney (or Pixar) picture".

    Just one of those odd differences about animation, I suppose.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    donsan, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:08pm

    marketing an invisible attribute

    A studio (distributor) will not have much success marketing themselves as fan friendly for leaving off FBI warnings or dialing back the piracy rhetoric simply because no consumer chooses a film based on studio, ever. Sure there are brands that tend to make movies I like but I never search for films based on company brand. It would seem more likely that hardware makers could market features that skip straight to the film similar to features like commercial skipping on a DVR.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Eugene (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Theaters

    True, but just because they can't doesn't mean they shouldn't. It just means it's not gonna happen.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Eugene (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: The JetBlue analogy misses a vital point.

    What the hell does any of that have to do with anything?

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    BigKeithO (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Re:

    I can't see that being true. I'm in Canada and I still get the FBI warning. What does that mean to me? An American law enforcement agency is going to come and get me? They just add them in there as a scare tactic, one that seems to work quite well I might add. ;)

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    ruin20, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:33pm

    Because the studios aren't the brand

    airlines have a brand, studios don't. I don't buy stuff from pictures x or pictures y, I buy by director or actor. so in many many ways there is no customer identification with the studios. Likewise, I don't associate all the sub-brands that P&G have with P&G. The movie industry needs to become more centered around the brands that actually get followed (actors, actresses, directors, and specialty studios) rather than these major huge studios. They don't stand for anything.

    If I see a Pixar film, I know what I'm getting. Same isn't true for sony or fox. They make movies that make them money. They aren't brands, they're investors. Consumers care about the product, not all the people who make money off of it. I don't know which studio is putting out a film until after I'm in the theatre or have the disk at home and it the logo pops up on the screen. And it's forgotten before the credits roll anyways. It might help an established brand but until the general populace can identify your works on site, preforming consumer gratis would likely not help. it's hard to build a brand around "no FBI warnings" when the main item is the content.

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    The point...

    Here's the problem with the major studios:

    20th Century Fox - Rupert Murdoch
    Universal Studios - Owned by GE, current president Ronald Meyer (since 1995)
    Columbia/Sony - Howard Stringer (2005)

    ------------------------------------------

    Thing is, most of them have been in these positions or near to those positions for 15-20+ years.

    Of all of the CEOs, only Stringer seems to be trying to move his company forward. He has pushed Sony into 3D technology for better or worse and made Blu-Ray the defacto next generation standard.

    With Bob Pisano leading for even more stringency in regards to copyright, I doubt anyone is looking at the larger picture of a better direction. Merely more into fighting a losing battle.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    trench0r (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 6:30pm

    great point, I think the love lost for music is kind of the same too, like I kind of sorta remember some 50's reels always about hollywood "we really do it for you, the viewers!" and now, what all of these ENTERTAINMENT industries have done is shown that no, we don't do it for you, the fan, we do it for the money, it's always been about the money and now more than ever, we need the money, please pay us the money, or go fuck yourselves (thanks gilbert, I wonder if he did it for the money, or if he is in on some kind of joke that I, for one, am laughing at)

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 6:57pm

    movie studios aren't really consumer brands

    The main reason to become "fan-friend" (from a business point of view) is to attract fans to your brand and increase sales for your brand. For a movie studio though, each movie is really its own brand. I mean, no one ever says "hey, let's go out and see the latest movie from Warner Brothers!"

    If a movie studio were trying to create its own netflix/hulu/etc. competitor, then sure, it might start to become a consumer brand, but for now, as long as it isn't substantially worse than the other studios in these sorts of ways, it has no real incentive to be better.

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    Jon Lawrence (profile), Oct 19th, 2010 @ 9:50pm

    Re: Re: Theaters

    You're dead on.

    Add to that, Studios are NOT IN THE FILM BUSINESS. They are in the STAR business.

    The don't line up hundreds of millions of dollars in financing based and pre-sales based on the quality of the product, but on the "guaranteed" audience sizes the studios project based on the stars that are in the films.

    Indie's are a totally different (and arguably, more adaptable) business. But most indie filmmakers are pretty terrible entrepreneurs/business people.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Ben, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 10:26pm

    Madman Studios

    there's a studio here in Australia called Madman Studios who mainly focus on asian cinema and anime who do this.

    Although here they are legally required to put the "you wouldn't steal a car" ad on the dvd's, they make sure they place them in an area on the dvd so you can always watch the main content of it without having to sit through that damm ad. Usually it's placed before the trailers if you select play all.

    They also have pretty great communication with customers through there forums (Which I joined to complain about missing something in a dvd and ended up being a regular member for 4+ years)

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    sal, Oct 19th, 2010 @ 11:37pm

    madman

    lol @ Ben:

    i was just about to reply about that...

    quite often our discs aren't CSS'd either. it depends what the licensors want.

    the AFACT trailers (who's to say i wouldn't steal a handbag?) are part of what on the face of it resembles a protection racket from AFACT. if ever we needed to bring suit against a serious pirate, we'd need their help.

    as far as the warnings and logos... years ago they were sometimes required to be "unskippable", and often the author just "forgot" to set that PUO.

     

    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