Big Hollywood Directors Seem To Think People Will Actually Pay $30 To Watch Movies At Home

from the reality-calling... dept

We still can’t figure out why anyone is “worried” about Hollywood’s silly plan to offer $30 video-on-demand rentals 10 weeks after films are in the theaters. Yet, theater owners who are effectively admitting that their service sucks are all complaining and now a bunch of big Hollywood directors are joining them. James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Robert Zemeckis, Michael Mann, Kathryn Bigelow and many others have apparently written a letter to the studios protesting the plan. Do they not yet realize that very few people are likely to pay $30 to watch these movies? And their basic argument doesn’t make any sense: they say this is a threat to theaters (it’s not) and that this will harm the movie industry as a whole (it won’t).

And, as stupid as $30 movies at home are, what this really foreshadows is the ridiculous levels to which the industry will go to block the real innovation that the industry needs: day and date release on all formats on the same day. If they’re so scared of massively overpriced video at home ten weeks after the theater debut, you can bet they’ll go absolutely ballistic when anyone tries to release video on demand and in the theater at the same time.

It seems that, once again, we have people focusing on the “tradition” of the way things were done, rather than actually providing what consumers want. How many times does this need to happen before industry folks realize this doesn’t work?

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Comments on “Big Hollywood Directors Seem To Think People Will Actually Pay $30 To Watch Movies At Home”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hypothetical.....

of course this will probably mean pirates will be releasing high quality versions of new movies in about, ohh, 10 and a 1/2 days from theatrical debut. Which will be a big jump from either the shitty day 1 cams or the multiple month weight till a screener leaks. So they will probably stick to blaming the pirates.

HM says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hypothetical.....

if I was still in college and lived in a house with 8 other people, i would consider using this service. If I did use it I would definitely record it and somehow that recording may find its way on the internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if pirates paid the 30 dollars, they pay the 12$ already to get into the theater and get a shitty cam version. Also people are often going to ridiculous lengths to be the first to release a screener, though that will probably die off since anyone can release it in 10 days(though that pre-10 day release will probably still a big deal).

People will rent these and they will put them online. I have no doubt.

As far as the counterfeit dvd market’s decline; I think a lot of that has to due with the shit quality of most of those movies. These rentals will probably improve the quality of most counterfeit DVDs. Although I havnt noticed a decline in the market personally, still plenty of people selling them at the local flea markets and walking through all the local bars on the weekend.

UhHello says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hypothetical.....

Do ya really think that us pirates pay to get the movie in the first place? LOL. I’ve got every pay per view and pay channel you can think of and have for about 12 years now. Cost on that, about 180 bux so far. Everything electronic is free if ya want it to be. Pirate for life, Fuck them overpaid actors anyway.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hypothetical.....

of course this will probably mean pirates will be releasing high quality versions of new movies in about, ohh, 10 and a 1/2 days from theatrical debut. Which will be a big jump from either the shitty day 1 cams or the multiple month weight till a screener leaks. So they will probably stick to blaming the pirates.

There’s usually decent quality digital rips (not cams) a day or two after release for many movies. Much distribution is done digitally now, without needing to ship film rolls around.
It just takes one guy making $8 an hour at the theater flipping switches and making sure the projector works to get a good capture or straight up copy it.

HM says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hypothetical.....

lol, I read 10 days not 10 weeks. Probably because I’m stupid. So no pirates won’t give a shit because they will already have a decent version.

I was thinking this was a good deal for families. But why pay 30 bucks to watch it once when you can wait another week and buy the movie on disc and watch it over and over again.

HothMonster says:

“How many times does this need to happen before industry folks realize this doesn’t work?”

0, meaning no matter how many times it happens they will never realize anything.

They will continue to force laws, sue fans and attempt to reeducate the population. Because as you know attempting the same thing over and over expecting different results is a promotable quality in the gatekeeper industries.

WDS (profile) says:


DirecTV is offering these overpriced rentals. I have received at least two e-mails advertising different releases. I would point out that the price on these ads is not high-lighted.

I wonder if there is anyway to get any information on how many people actually spend the money. I also wonder how many people have to buy before it is worth the satellite bandwidth to offer them.

Khstapp says:

Price point seems to be a sticking point

Many commenters here seem to feel the $30 price point is too high but that is relative. If you have a family of five like I do $30 could be a good deal. Where I live tickets generally run between $8-10. Add snacks and I’m lucky to walk out of the theatre with enough change from a $100 bill to buy myself lunch.

As for the ‘theatre experience’ it generally sucks. You wait in line to buy tickets, wait in another to get snacks and yet another to get seats. And you havent experienced the utter joy of entering a crowded movie with three kids in tow and no more than 2-3 empty seats next to each other. Then you get to take each kid to the restroom individually because God forbid their bladders fill at the same time.

Thirty bucks is sounding pretty good to me.

anonymous patriot says:

Re: Price point seems to be a sticking point

10 weeks AFTER theatrical release is only a few week BEFORE Blu-Ray and DVD release. Wait a couple weeks, spend a couple bucks less and OWN the movie so you can watch it anytime you want.

Can’t speak for other peoples Video on Demand service, but mine doesn’t come with Digital HD audio, so I’d rather wait a bit and get the Blu-Ray.

Anonymouse says:

Re: Price point seems to be a sticking point

So you would pay $30 to watch a movie once on the TV you bought, to clean up the popcorn you dropped on your own carpet that you have to spend time cleaning up after?

I don’t share the same enthusiasm as you do. At the very least you could wait a bit longer, buy the DVD/BluRay and watch it over and over again.

trish says:

Re: Price point seems to be a sticking point

so it’s a better deal because it’s cheaper than the absolutely crappy experience you get at the theatre? Not hard to compete with that… It might be worth it to some people to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege of not having to go out to the theatres, but where the marginal cost is zero and 100% of the price you pay is ‘profit’, I’m wondering why they can’t charge 2 or 3 bucks. I might actually be inclined to pay that. Rationalizing that I can either go to the inconvenient gross theatre and over-pay, or stay home and overpay less, no, I’d rather torrent.

NickN says:

Re: Price point seems to be a sticking point

I agree 100% — $30 is a bargain for the right audience… My wife and I would willingly pay $30 to see a movie that was a new release without leaving the house.

We have two young kids and no family living nearby. If we want to go see a movie, we buy tickets AND pay for babysitting. So now we have to plan in advance when we want to go and find an available babysitter before we even get out of the door. That’s usually well north of $75 without soda or popcorn, and for that we get to go sit in a sh*tty theater and have a mediocre experience. We also run the risk of committing to a babysitter only to find out that the movie is sold out (this has happened twice in the past couple of years).

Would we do it for every new movie that came out? No. But we would do it more frequently than we make it to the theater.

Done right, this idea will do well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Actually if you use your brain for once, you would see it IS a direct threat to theaters. You could invite friends over for a viewing and see a movie for a few bucks each. Even just 2 people, that’s only $15 each, and worth it to many to save on concessions and enjoying the convenience. Quit being an ignorant fool assuming the industry is always wrong. Unless of course they are giving it to you completely free as you think you are entitled to.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Right because you couldn’t do this before because DVD players won’t work if there is more than one person in the room.

If what you are saying is the theaters don’t offer anything and its actually more convenient and a better experience to watch it at home, then what is the point of theaters?

A giant screen and a massive sound system makes some movies way better, but not all of them. Some people wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see something they are anticipating at theaters, all lot of people would rather stay home. So maybe the theaters have to start providing something beyond a giant screen and massive sound system to make it worth it for people to show up.

If the ONLY reason people go the theaters is because they get movies first (for no reason other than to get people in them) then they probably should close.

Provide something people want or don’t make money, its simple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Ok, so let me see if I get your point:

FACT 1: The theater going experience sucks.
FACT 2: Because of “FACT 1”, people would rather watch movies at home.
FACT 3: Piracy exists.

The brilliant conclusion: Leave everything as it is, but increase home-movies-watching prices. Oh, and introduce unnecessary delays too, just to round it off.

Can we see a problem here?


No? Then let me give you a hand:

If you want to save the theaters, you need to give people an incentive to go. You don’t do this by making every other options WORSE, you do this by making the theater option BETTER. If you make every other option worse, the consumer, faced with many sucky options will opt for the one that isn’t quite “right” but still doesn’t suck: piracy.

Where you had a potential customer, now you have a pirate. You lost a customer and it’s your own damn fault.

If instead you keep improving the consumer’s options, the consumers will be more than happy to give you money. People were happy paying for the likes of Hulu and are happy paying for Netflix, so the problem isn’t that people aren’t willing to pay. The problem is that the alternatives are very very poor.

Now, toss in basic economics and what do you get:

– High demand drives people to seek for a supply
– Supply is insufficient or impractical
– People seek a new supplier
– Who’s the supplier that is always there for you and doesn’t cost a dime (although you don’t like using it so much because of the potential troubles)? Yep…

It’s that simple.

rangda (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here Mr. Troll, have a cookie… (I really can’t help myself)

Sooooooooo, if the only reason people go to a theater at all is because they have no alternative choice (which your semi-rant implies) why should they stay in business? Do they have a divine right to be new release cinema gatekeepers or something? Is a monty-pyhon style cardboard lightning bolt going to strike me if I don’t see a movie in a theater?

If the industry would use it’s brain it would realize that you get money from customers from providing them a service that they want, not by providing them what you want to provide them. Only monopolies get to do the latter which is why these industries are fighting so hard to remain monopolies…

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually if you use your brain for once

Thank you, I did. But it’s always refreshing when someone starts off their comment with a direct insult on my intelligence. That’s who I know they’re to be taken seriously.

you would see it IS a direct threat to theaters

How so? Ten weeks after the theatrical release, most films are already out of the theaters.

You could invite friends over for a viewing and see a movie for a few bucks each. Even just 2 people, that’s only $15 each, and worth it to many to save on concessions and enjoying the convenience.

Or you wait a few more weeks and get the same movie for a couple bucks. Or at no marginal cost as a part of your Netflix subscription.

Quit being an ignorant fool assuming the industry is always wrong.

Well, we can argue on this point if you’d like, but I don’t think the industry is always wrong. I think some people haven’t thought this through very carefully. And I believe I’ve backed that up with a rational explanation of why.

Unless of course they are giving it to you completely free as you think you are entitled to

Perhaps you have me confused with another site, because I’ve never made this argument.

Care to try again?

Bretthotep (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nope, they’re still wrong, and you could definitely take a moment to think as well.
How many people have a set up at home capable of rivalling the theatre experience. Who is going to pay 30 bucks to watch a film on their tv when they can watch it for half the price on a 100 foot screen with digital sound? Are you going to set up your own little ticket booth collecting money from friends to watch a film in your living room? The only chance this thing has of being successful is everyone suddenly forgetting they can rent the movie for 5 bucks in a month and a half and suddenly deciding that the much more immersive theatre outing should be overlooked for a much more expensive lesser experience.

JeroenW (profile) says:

There’s way too many films these days where I’d expect to get paid $30 to sit ‘m out. I can’t recall 3 films made in the last 5 years where I’d even gone to the theatre for. Not that going to a movie theatre is that much fun. Sound tracks are all about how many subsonic rumbles you can get away with as a director. Volume is just short of real pain level. Seats are uncomfortable, the floor sticks and “one does not meet a better class of people”

Joe says:

I think the opposition is more towards the creation of the 10 week window, rather than the price point (which admittedly sucks). But if they launch it at $30, then it’s quite easy to change that price to find the one that will fit. What if 6 months after launch the reduce the price point to $15 and reduce the window to 8 weeks?

The bottom line is- the product as is, is not a threat, but would be easily adaptable at a later point to move more control from the theatres to the studios. Which is probably what they wanted all along.

Wifezilla (profile) says:

If I owned a theater...

If I owned a theater I could provide consumers with an experience they can’t get at home. Better sound system, bigger screen, more comfortable furniture, better snacks, cleaner room, etc…

Serving wine & beer would be a good idea. How about descent food instead of just crap you can buy at 7-11 and smuggle in yourself. Of course too many cities make it almost impossible to get a liquor license or a food prep license.

What about giving away promotional items related to the movie you are watching? A prize drawing or getting a special promotional code with your ticket is something you can’t get at home.

There are a lot of things that can be done to get people in the theaters. Making home watching too inconvenient or too expensive isn’t one of them.

No way in hell will I pay $30 to watch a movie at home.

New Idea says:


Sell a special “Streaming” version from Netflix or someplace for $35, but then instead of spending $30 on a BlueRay, you spend $35 and get the BlueRay mailed to you when it comes out and you get to watch an unlimited streaming version unil the disc comes out.

But then add that if you already pay for a Netflix account, the movie gets permanently added to your account. The above free streaming wouldn’t require a paid Netflix account.

Or something along those lines.

CJ (profile) says:

well um…

WWE Extreme times call for extreme rules. See what happens when John Cena, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio, Edge, and Randy Orton put it all on the line at Extreme Rules, Sunday, May 1, 8PM ET/5PM PT, live on DISH Network Pay-Per-View.

Sunday, May 1 at 8PM ET
$44.95 (Standard definition)
$49.95 (High definition)

WWE goes over the limit as John Cena, Randy Orton, The Miz, Edge, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, and all your favorite WWE Superstars collide at WWE Over the Limit, Sunday, May 22 at 8PM ET/5PM PT, live on pay-per-view.

Premieres Sunday, May 22 8PM ET
$44.95 (Standard definition)
$49.95 (High definition)

They are not complaining on this pricing. It’s still entertainment. It may be live, but still people are paying for this.


Anonymous Coward says:

30 is a bit high for a movie that is out of the theater that I can take the family to the 2 dollar theater to watch. Make it 20 bucks the second week of the release and I will pull the trigger to watch it in my living room. Make it 30 and send me a copy of it in the mail or give me a permanent digital download and I would probably do it. 10 weeks out this movie is probably found somewhere in a very watchable format. If they think this is the answer to revenue loss then I think they are after those willing to pay more instead of making it affordable to everyone with a little value added (I would garner more $$ too) that probably would put a big dent in the market they are trying to bust up.

Dirk says:

Good point about the $30, but it’s the start of a trend that can eventually see that number come down and keep people out of the the theater. And when you factor in that $30 is actually a bargain when we’re talking about a family of four, then we’re already there.

I’d love to hear your argument as to why releasing a movie simultaneously on all platforms would make any sense whatsoever from a financial perspective. It doesn’t. It’s called not controlling your supply. There’s a reason Disney recalls DVDs and then special releases them every so often — limiting its run in the market actually encourages more buys than if they were always available.

Same principle applies here. How many times do you already hear, “Oh, I’ll wait to see that when it’s out on DVD?” With your plan, that number would skew tenfold, including all the ancillary platforms, and the total number of viewers would stay basically the same. Let’s even say hypothetically that you could prove to me that more people would watch the movie because it’s available in more places, you’ve now brought platforms into play that require purchases for less money that more people can watch per purchase, while marketing costs would stay flat. Revenue would still drop, that shouldn’t even be debatable.

Not to mention that the theater experience has made major strides with 3D and needs all the revenue it can get to justify investing in glasses-free tech, which would explode that platform’s potential.

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