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.

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Comments on “Why Haven't Any Movie Studios Become The 'Fan Friendly' Studio?”

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32 Comments
Karl (profile) says:

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.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

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 …

Jon Lawrence (profile) says:

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.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

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.

TPBer (profile) says:

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.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

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.)

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

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.)

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

PRMan (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Joel Coehoorn says:

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.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

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.

donsan (profile) says:

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.

ruin20 says:

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.

Jay (profile) says:

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.

trench0r (profile) says:

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)

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Ben says:

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)

sal says:

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.

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