Theaters Boycott New Film Over Simultaneous DVD Release

from the you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me dept

It's really amazing how badly movie theaters are being run these days. We've already discussed to death the many, many, many reasons why people are avoiding the theaters. It's got almost everything to do with the overall experience (that includes everything from price to movie quality to overwhelming ads to theater noise to uncomfortable seats to being treated like criminals and so on and so on). These are all things that the theaters have some control over -- but they refuse to do anything about it, preferring to blame just about anything else. The latest move is especially ridiculous. Steven Soderbergh announced his plans last year to release new movies and DVDs simultaneously. Instead of looking for ways to leverage that, now that the release is happening, major movie theater chains have decided to boycott the film and they will not show it. In other words, because of their own misguided fear that it could take away from revenue, they won't even give people the choice of watching it in a theater -- instead making more people go get it on DVD. The whole point of simultaneous release is to give people a choice of where and how to watch it. The theaters should embrace this. They should recognize that going to the movies is a social experience along with the ability to watch it the film on a big screen in a theater setting. If they played up the social experience and made it more enjoyable they could attract a lot of people. In other words, make it a choice worth making. They could even do something (gasp!) creative, like offering discounts to buy the DVD right as you come out of the theater (or a combined ticket that gets you both the DVD and an in-theater screening). Imagine the additional sales from anyone who really liked the film. Instead, by refusing to show the film, these theaters are more or less admitting that they don't think they have anything special to offer movie watchers other than the movie. If they really believe that, then they deserve to go out of business. Update: Mark Cuban, who backed the Soderbergh film, rips into the theater owners and gives plenty of other examples that fit with what we said above about the theater owners not understanding what business they're in.
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  1. identicon
    ?, 19 Jan 2006 @ 12:22am

    Re: Theaters Boycott New Film Over Simultaneous DV

    Do you really think that the people who patronize movies on a regular basis these days would really stop going if the DVD came out same day as the theater release?

    I think those who enjoy the theater experience (and there are tons of people out there who do) are going to go to the theater even if the DVD comes out same day. Others (and I would be one), might watch the DVD first, then decide that the movie ought to be seen on the big screen (there have been several flicks that I have seen recently that I enjoyed enough to see again, and would have gone to see in the theaters if given the opportunity).

    The real problem is the movie theaters are loosing money because there aren't enough people populating those seats. A large portion of those who don't populate the seats are telling movie companies (theaters and studios) why, but they aren't listening. Instead, what they are doing is assuming that the problem lies in criminal acts (or acts that ought to be criminalized -- okay, that might be a stretch, but I wouldn't be surprised if some movie theater employee at some point thought that you should see the movie in the theater before you would be allowed to buy or rent the DVD/VHS/Beta).

    Movies are going to go the way that many other in the entertainment industry have gone. And that is, instead of putting out something that I would like to see and giving me the option of paying for it, they are going to put out something that Iím not interested in, and then they are going to take the money from me.

    How are they going to do that you say? Taxes! That is what many people in the classical and stage theaters do (and for the snobs out there, Iím well aware of theaters that exist solely on revenues generated in house, oh, and I do attend shows at those theaters). There isnít enough of an audience in many places to support those kinds of endeavors, so they end up taxing the population. I canít tell you how many times I have voted no on taxes to support ďartĒ that Iím not interested in supporting because some organization figured that it would better my life. Heck, I canít tell you how many times I have voted no on taxes that would support ďartĒ that I enjoy, simply because I donít believe in taxing an uninterested population.

    Movie theaters are only going to appeal to a limited demographic, the higher the prices, the more difficult they are going to make it for people to get there (again, they need to review the economic theory of ďutilityĒ). My prediction is that they are going to follow other models that less popular forms of art have, and they are going to take our money from us.

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