Putting A Movie On TV Before It's In Theaters

from the Mark-Cuban's-latest-experiment dept

While some movie studio execs are still claiming that it’s not “technically possible” to release movies in the theaters and elsewhere at the same time, Mark Cuban forges ahead doing just that. A couple years ago he made news for doing a simultaneous theater and DVD release of a Steven Soderbergh film, recognizing that people want to watch a movie wherever it’s most convenient to them. Unfortunately, short-sighted theater owners boycotted the movie and the press quickly condemned this “day and date” technique as a failure. Of course, it didn’t help that the movie just wasn’t that good.

However, that experience hasn’t stopped Cuban from continuing to experiment and push the movie industry into this century. His latest, as pointed out by Carlo, is that the new Demi Moore and Michael Caine movie Flawless is actually debuting on Cuban’s HDNet TV channel two days before the theatrical release. Slowly, but surely, perhaps theater owners will recognize that they can’t rely on artificial scarcity to get people into the seats. They’ll have to start innovating and offering a better experience. Perhaps it’s worth noting that Cuban is also a theater owner… and appears to actually be working hard on making the theater experience better and experimenting with unique business models. If he, as a theater owner, isn’t scared of “competing” against home theaters, why are other theater owners so afraid?

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Comments on “Putting A Movie On TV Before It's In Theaters”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Watching movies you've seen

In some cases, the social value of the theater may actually be enhanced by showing movies people have seen before.
At my old college, there was a small theater that had its biggest crowds when they had late night showings of old classic movies (e.g. Wait until Dark, Monty Python, Princess Bride, etc.). Everyone has seen them before, but they all came for the social nostalgic experience.

Of course that was back in college, and college/ high-school kids have been known to go week after week to Rock Horror shows till they know the lines better than the actors. I don’t know how this applies in other demographics.

Rose M. Welch says:

A local theatre...

…shows older children’s movies during the week in the summer in the mornings. They fill up very, very quickly with parents who want something air-conditioned to do with thier kids who are tired of being cooped up in the house. The tickets are much less than regular tickets, but the theatre uses time that was being wasted to generate more revenue and a better experience for movie-goers.

Give me comfortable seats with footrests. Give me a larger choice of snack options. Give me booster seats for my kids. (My local theatre does, but I’ve yet to see it elsewhere.) Show me old movies during the day for less money. Run a week of classic movies and then a week of campy old horror movies. (Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, anyone?) Those things would be worth spending money on.

Monarch says:

Maybe the theaters should be the ones who sell the DVD’s of the films. Even if they required a paid admission ticket stub, hell, if I wanted to see a blockbuster like that, I’d go pay for ticket for the movie, if I could buy the DVD at the same time. Boom, give the ticket to the person behind me and walk out with the DVD!
Wouldn’t do that will all movies, but I would for probably 5-6 year. Theaters would actually get some money out of me for once if that happened.

Tom The Toe says:


Cuban understands making money. He did the same thing with the movie Shrooms (horror flick). The movies he shows first on HDNET I probably wouldn’t pay to see at the theater but they are fun movies to watch at home. They are broadcast in High-Def with digital surround sound and look and sound great. Since he only broadcasts them once before the theater release I time shift them with my HD-DVR. The movies are getting better as he starts spending more money on scripts and actors. I hope this is an experiment that will run a long time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Has anybody ever thought that the movie theater experience should deal with more than just what movies are available and when? I may only have a 40″ screen in my living room with an up-convert DVD player, but I have the comfort of my couch and any form of junk food I want, not the often very uncomfortable chairs and lousy overpriced snacks that the theater provides.

I think it theaters really want to innovate, they’ll start selling a wider range of snacks at reasonable prices (lower your margins a bit and you should gain bigtime in overall sales, not that hard to figure out), as well as install more comfortable seating in the theaters.

There’s also the acoustics, which are really pathetic in some theaters (lots of echo). I know it’s difficult to deal with large rooms like that, but I know for a fact that the technology is available to vastly improve the acoustics in large rooms. As of right now, a decent surround sound system in a living room can often sound better than a theater because you don’t have all the echoing from a large room.

Oh, and finally, STOP USING ADHESIVE FLOOR CLEANER!!!!! I don’t care if it is commercial grade stuff, NOBODY likes to walk on sticky floors. Honestly, it makes a guy almost nauseous sometimes, which in turn may hurt snack sales (that’s my personal opinion anyway). The bottom line here is there is QUITE a lot that can be done to improve the public theater experience. They have had a monopoly on the market for so long that they have forgotten how to innovate, and that needs to change. Any sane businessman should know that a business that doesn’t grow will eventually die, and that applies to the theater industry as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Interesting

Ah yes. The theaters should have somebody patrolling the theaters, at least during the first part of the show, to make sure people have their cell phones in check. I have watched numerous people blatantly ignore any and all warnings to turn off their cell phones. Theaters have rules, and people that disobey the rules need to be removed from the premises. It’s like disciplining little kids. If all you do is tell them to do something, they’ll never do it. You need to lay down the law and impose consequences for disobedience, or else they will never learn, and order will turn to chaos.

As for $35, that is a bit steep, but I might do it once in a while for a movie that I know I’m going to enjoy. Problem is, fancy theaters like that aren’t going to be coming to small towns anytime soon.

Zach says:

Not as easy as it sounds

The idea of releasing a movie on tv before it’s initial theater premier isn’t as cut and dry as it sounds. It would require a radical shift in the entire manner in which Hollywood does business.

A movies first run at the theaters is used to determine the licensing prices for subsequent release windows. For example, when a studio is in talks with a cable channel for how much the channel is going to pay in licensing fees in order to broadcast the film on tv, it’s domestic gross is used as a guage for where to set the price. This goes for On-Demand, Pay-Per-View, and foreign market licensing as well. Without the box-office gauge of where to set these licensing fees, cable channels may be more reluctant to make a deal, and the studios may end up getting less for a surprise hit than they normally would. I don’t think any of them want to take a chance with getting screwed.

Cynical Skeptic (profile) says:

Mike, Companies just don't get it.

The only way to keep succeeding is to innovate. Protected markets only delay the death. Without new ways you just can’t work for long. To paraphrase “Time and Innovation wait for noone”.

(Mike I have been reading you on TechDirt for a long time. You should be a highly paid consultant instead of just a very good blogger”)

Scott (user link) says:

I saw this movie onDemand weeks ago...

And it was great!

I love movies but I HATE going to the movies.

I live in the city so there’s always traffic, so we have to leave real early. Then we have to pay an outrageous fee for parking. Then we have to pay $11 for tickets which is really $22 because I’m paying for my wife too.

Then we have go sit in the theater 20 min early in order to get any decent seats next to each other.

At the end of the experience I’m broke and pissed off.

So what I normally do is just download movies even though it’s illegal.

With this movie however, I was able to watch it legally onDemand before it was even released in the theater. And guess what? It didn’t suck!

I think it was $9.99 or something like that, and I didn’t mind paying for it at all.

I hope this trend continues.

It just makes sense.

PRMan (profile) says:

Pretty good movie

Since seeing it on this column, I went ahead and recorded it and watched it last night on HDNet Movies.

It was a pretty good movie. The questions it raised from the standpoint of legal vs. moral rights and wrongs were very interesting and the acting was quite good and, for one of the few times in my life I didn’t figure it out near the beginning of the movie.

Go see it, it’s worth a look.

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