Say That Again

by Carlo Longino




Movie Exec Says Compressed Release Windows 'Not Technically Possible'

from the well-we're-still-digitizing-movies-on-a-486-DX-2-so-it-takes-a-while dept

You really have to admire the movie industry's ability to stick its head in the sand and hold it under for so long. They keep churning out content that's ridiculously expensive to produce, then, instead of melding it into a wide range products that people actually want to buy, they cling to business models built on restricting consumers' access to content and drive would-be customers to illegitimate sources. So forgive me for seeing the headline "Technology 'can beat film piracy'" and assuming the story was about another harebrained DRM scheme, when in actuality, the UK film minister was telling the movie industry that they need to take advantage of digital distribution to compete with piracy by offering people more ways to pay for movies, in particular making them available to download or on-demand services at the same time they're in theaters. The idea of compressing release windows certainly isn't new, but every time it's mentioned, movie theaters and studios throw a fit. So the response to the minister from a Sony Pictures UK is rather inevitable: "At the moment it's probably not technically possible." Huh? It's not technically possible to get a movie on to multiple platforms the same day it's released to theaters? That's sort of funny, because smaller independent movie companies don't seem to have any problem figuring it out, like IFC Entertainment, or Mark Cuban and Steven Soderbergh, or Morgan Freeman and Intel (well, we'll assume they'll actually do it, instead of just announcing it again). Maybe in some sense the guy is right -- it's not technically possible for the movie studios because it requires some effort, just like all the other things they could have done to compete with piracy instead of just trying to lock their content down even further. But, on the other hand, if by "not technically possible" he means "it's not technically possible for us to release movies for download without burdening them with copy protection that makes them wholly unattractive", perhaps he was right.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2006 @ 6:36am

    Or, maybe the movie exec ment that its not technically possible to distribute the movie the same day its in the studio because by doing so, the studios would really piss off their best customer (or actually violate some contract or agreement), which is actually the movie theater owners.

    You seem to think that the movie studios own the theaters, but they don't. Allowing immediate download of a movie as soon as its out would hurt the theaters. Book publishers do the same thing, you see a book in hard copy, then later it comes out in paperback. How many people would buy the expensive hard copy if a paperback was available at a lower cost? You don't think the studio's would love to just beam their films to theaters instead of sending them the tapes? The tapes cost about $10,000. Only problem is that a lot of theaters don't have projectors that would be able to show them, and theater owners don't want to pay to upgrade their projectors.

    I know this place likes to talk about technology, but why do you seem to ignore basic business models? It isn't a good idea to cannibalize your own products just because technology would allow you to do so. VoIP is a perfect example of this. Why should Verizon hurry to offer VoIP when a lot of their customers are not ready to accept VoIP yet. Why should Verizon try to convince people to not only buy VoIP but to buy it from Verizon. Let the media and Vonage spend money convincing the mass that VoIP is a serious phone replacement. Then when the market is ready, they can start pushing VoiceWing. If the cable companies were not successful selling VoIP, the telco's wouldn't even bother with it. Now their only response is to offer fiber and attack on the video front. Telco's didn't introduce VoIP until it made business sense to do so.

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