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.

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

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Tyshaun says:


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.

AMP says:

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 $.

Rick Gilmore says:

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…

Jason (user link) says:

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.

AMP says:

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…….

dude rancher says:

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…..

Elderly Cheeta says:

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!

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