What Is So Special About A Movie's Theatrical Release?
from the put-the-horse-in-front-of-the-cart dept
Box office sales no longer play nearly as important a role. And yet newspapers, as if unable to comprehend the change, continue to breathlessly report these numbers every week, often on their front pages. With few exceptions, this anachronistic ritual is what passes for reporting on the business of Hollywood.So what is the actual business model for Hollywood movies? Epstein notes that only about a tenth of the total revenues for the major movie studios comes from American theaters -- and the lion's share of revenue comes from licensing deals in the form of DVD sales, TV broadcasting rights and all sorts of other distribution deals. It's no wonder, then, that the industry is so anchored to intellectual property rights and so focused on doing anything to preserve its lucrative licensing business.
We've seen a lot of alternative proposals for making money from movies, but if the box office sales are really just a fraction of the movie industry's revenues, why are theatrical releases made out to be such a big deal? Perhaps instead of delaying the release of movies to home theaters, certain movies should be released to Netflix/RedBox/Blockbuster first -- and then only the titles that have enough demand for the big screen should make it to a theatrical release. Obviously, there's the argument that if an audience could watch a movie at home for ~$1, there would be no reason to pay $10 to see the same movie in the theater. But that assumes there is nothing special about seeing a movie on the big screen.
Given the example of how Paranormal Activity only screened in nationwide cities after fans demanded it, offering movies that people actually want to see in theaters may be a better way of filling seats. Or maybe there really is no reason to go to movie theaters anymore.