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May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It" 
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Post May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
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Tue May 31, 2011 3:47 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Amen.

Maybe I'm getting older but I'm not looking forward to going to the movies anymore. The problems with projections (not starting on time, blurry image, movie playing upside down, etc.) I find occur more often when I go to the US; less of a problem here in Canada. Teenagers, however, are the same everywhere.

I get good mileage out of my 60" HDTV and my seat isn't sticky. OK, it is, but it's my own fault ;-)

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Tue May 31, 2011 4:53 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
I still like going to theaters, i've been fortunate enough in that I haven't had to deal with any obnoxious theater-goers or projector problems so far *knock on wood* But I don't like this one-month business model either.


Tue May 31, 2011 5:16 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
The fact that I don't currently have a car has definitely impacted things for me but I've just found it easier to procure films online and watch them in the privacy of my home. The last film I saw in theaters was The Expendables. Frankly, most of the films I tend to enjoy would work just as well on the small screen as they would on a larger one.


Tue May 31, 2011 5:22 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Sorry James, I emphasize with your rant but that rant has nothing to do with the window between theatrical and home releases.

There are two things to consider here: the preferences of the audience, and what makes more money. Obviously the former suggests the window should be zero, while the latter can result in both a zero or short window or a longer one.

I'm from the Netherlands were we always used to get movies much later than in the US. Dates for different European countries would also differ a lot. That has fortunately changed, although Tron Legacy came out in Holland a lot later than elsewhere, to my dismay. It was also only shown in 3D and I can't see 3D so I'm not wasting my time with that. I eventually saw it on Blu Ray this weekend and it looked amazing. Too bad looking amazing and having a good story don't coincide very often.

I think the main reason that this window as well as the theater/home one has been shrinking is because a movie that's on the shelves doesn't make any money. The piracy thing doesn't help either, but I'm not sure many people are satisfied with a "cam" version. Piracy doesn't start for real until a movie is out on DVD/BDR.

Now the question is: what makes more money for the studio, a short window or a long one? I think for obscure movies a short window makes more sense, because that way a single marketing effort will raise interest in the potential audience, while two smaller efforts are likely to be less successful. For big movies people are going to see them anyway and/or the marketing budget is large enough to be split in two, so there it makes sense to force the people who can't wait to spend more in the theater.

It's a very peculiar bit of psychology that people value seeing a new movie much more than seeing the same movie three weeks or months later.

Back to the quality of the theater experience: is it just me or have movies gotten blurrier and grainier over the past two decades? I remember the picture quality being much better than it is today, but I could be mistaken.


Tue May 31, 2011 6:49 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
James Berardinelli wrote:

The reason for the 1-month model is crystal clear: studios realize that they're churning out crap and are cutting their overhead costs by playing movies in theaters for a shorter length of time. When the drop-off in earnings from week 1 to week 2 can be well over 50% (see Thor), it's not hard to see why this is so.


Tue May 31, 2011 7:36 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
"The Greatest Show is universally derided as one of the three least-deserving Best Picture winners."

What are the other two?


Tue May 31, 2011 8:25 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Exactly how many people do you all know who own televisions that are over 72", display 1080p and have invested in a sound system that actually does sound good? Bearing in mind that you cannot save money on the sound part.

Very few people I know who have invested in HD televisions have gone for models over about 60" The main reason is space; my parents own a 42" because the only place in the living room we can keep a television means we don't have the view distance for anything larger. I feel this or more of a UK thing where houses are generally smaller. The view distance is essential for still being able to see a good quality picture. If you sit too close to anything over about 30", the picture just fails.

I can't speak for the States but the biggest UK chain, VUE, generally has pretty nice cinemas. That is to say the place is clean, the facilities are usable and you get a comfy seat. The screens are large and I've only ever had a problem ONCE, when I saw '300' and it had to be restarted 5 mins in for some reason. On the other hand, the staff are rather lousy. No exaggeration, NOBODY in the building knows more about film than they can learn from reading the 'Coming Soon' pamphlets. Perhaps being into movies makes you over qualified (I've failed TWICE to gain employment at the company).

I'm siding with the studios to an extent; I think it's high time that Cinemas need to be shown that people no longer NEED them as such. I mean why not make ALL movies straight to TV/DVD? The audience is there right? However I do love the cinema going experience. Not for the 'shared experience' that James mentioned but the social element of going as a group and then arguing about the movie in a bar afterwards. I'd definitely miss that!


Tue May 31, 2011 9:18 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
I generally agree with the ability to watch at home, but for me this is a double-edged sword. Sure it's convenient, but when I'm at home I feel more easily distracted by household chores and the convenience of pausing the movie.

However, if I make the effort to pick a certain time, drive the short distance to the theater to see a movie I can't pause, I'm more likely to focus on it. I've set aside time for this so I have to pay attention.

Also, it helps that I go to the early Sunday morning showings for cheap tickets and no annoying teens lacking manners.


Tue May 31, 2011 9:32 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Part of the problem I suspect is the usual ones we all know about: obnoxious patrons, cell phone yakkers, ridiculous prices at both the box office and concession stand and so on.

Of course a significant part of the problem is too much pure product.

Here's another issue to consider. There are in theory two kinds of movie theaters. On the one hand you have the chain multiplexes (Regal, Muvico etc) and on the other hand the smaller independently run ones.

There used to be more independently run theaters in my area. Now most of them have either gone out of business or been absorbed by the corporate chains. Off the top of my head I can think of two that are relatively close to where I live. I've gone to both of those to see movies that the multiplexes wouldn't carry (the Regal near where I live never got Blue Valentine at all. One of the local independents did get it and I ended up going there to see it. It cost less at the box office and less at the concession stand than it would have at Regal. Regal also waited a while to get the King's Speech until the Oscar buzz started rising and they ran 127 Hours for about a week and a half).

That highlights part of the issue: A lot of the corporate chains very rarely take Independent, foreign or under the radar films. Or they don't take em until they're close to performing at blockbuster level. It's a miracle that I ended up seeing Precious and The King's Speech at the local Regal. In essence they need as many screens as they can for the latest Fockers shitfest or its equivalent. Besides, life is easier in a top 5 world. If the only titles you have to worry about are Hangover 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Fast Five and Bridesmaids, then it's easier than if you have those plus 6 independent and foreign films and may have to think a little bit.

The smaller independently run theaters, in addition to charging less overall, will get the independent and foreign films. They may not run them as often as they run the big blockbusters. But they do know that there is an audience out there for them even if it is a relatively small one and they can turn a decent profit on them.

In his book "Make Your Own Damn Movie" Troma head Lloyd Kaufman made an observation that many of the chain video stores (Blockbuster) don't seem motivated by profit. Their primary reason for existence seems to be to increase market share and steamroll any possible competition. It's kind of the same thing with the corporate multiplexes although a more accurate way of putting it would be to say that there prime method of profit is via market share and making themselves the only option people have for seeing first run films. And again, it's easier to fill six screens with 2-D and 3-D versions of the latest POS with Robert Pattinson in it than it does to set aside 2 screens for it and find screens for showings of Blue Valentine.

Despite these complaints, I still do go to the theater when the mood strikes me. Problem is, lately there hasn't been much to draw me in. None of the local theaters have Tree Of Life.

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Tue May 31, 2011 10:26 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Wow James, excellent post containing many thoughts.

I'm not sure my college professor would have agreed with your jump from release window to quality of experience.

I think there's a demographic thing at play here James. You have slipped beyond your teens and twenties, become a father and life has moved forwards. I've been there :-) My cinema viewing has slipped from an average of 60-70 per year in the ten years up till 2007, over 100 a year in the decade before that. last year i saw 7 at the cinema and so far this year I have seen 3. All of the me at the request of my kids.

Yes, 3D is dreadful, and yes it's awful sharing a cinema with creatures who behave worse than animals. But my home experience is vastly superior to anything I can see at the cinema.

As for teenagers, cinema going is not about the movie or the experience it's about dates, peer pressure and being abel to sat you've seen the latest thing. It's also just a fun night out. They are not there to enjoy and evaluate movies.

If you look at stock prices, bankruptcies and any other data you'll see that exhibition is not where the money is made in the film business. the studios are panicking because the great fountain of $$ called DVD is collapsing. Blu ray was a fumbled release as two versions competed for ears and delayed adoption. The future is downloading and streaming. Netflix is doing it, the studios and the public knows it.

So back to release windows.

There is another influence in this model. Movies available on torrent sites. The studios also know that this horse has bolted and that DVDrip 480p, 720p and 1080p versions are all available of every film on line weeks before the discs are released. I'm ignoring the cams and other versions that are day and date with the cinema releases.

The reality is that for an increasing group the window has already disappeared.

Another key factor is that movies are increasingly front loaded. Any quick look at box office mojo will show you that movies now often makes in excess of 30% of their entire gross in the first weekend

So what to do if you were a studio?

Your exhibition partners provide a rotten experience and many of them have a poor financial prospect for the future. You're being ripped off by downloaders at the other end. Your only hope is to go direct.

It's hard to predict the future of the movie industry as it needs events that are talked about, reviewed, and seen by hordes over a weekend to generate buzz that creates crossover.

If I ran a studio I'd be heading towards this model:

Opening 14 days
Limited to theaters with 75% rev share. The sole purpose for the studio is to create a platform

Weeks 3-4
Encoded premium priced streaming $20 (1080p and 720p) and theatrical presence at 50/50

Weeks 5-8
Encoded normal priced streaming and 50/50 with theaters

Week 9 Available on DVD and Blu Ray where Redbox will have it for $1

This reflects reality and the studios, movie theaters and everyone needs to deal with what is happening - otherwise companies will perish.

Rob


Tue May 31, 2011 10:54 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
It's all about lowering risk. It can be hard to predict how the public will react to a movie, so spending millions of dollars on a movie is a risky move, so the studios want to do everything they can to make sure they get a return on their investment.

The real downturn with movies started is when Hollywood was still obsessed with comic book movies and sequels while the average public had gotten bored with them. Normally, Hollywood would have taken the hint already and tried something else, but with cross-marketing (Comic-Con, video games, books the movies are based on, etc) and overseas income, superhero movies are still making a profit even though relatively few people are seeing them.

I think they added 3D for the same reason. No matter what, 3D means an extra surcharge. For a relatively low price, they get an extra 3 or 4 bucks per ticket. That does wonders for the studios. And by eliminating the option of 2D, moviegoers who want to see the movie have no choice but to pay the surcharge (this wouldn't make much of a difference if they made it in 3D from the ground up, but they don't because it's too expensive).

Another reason profits are falling is because Hollywood is trying to be the jack of all trades. It's less about the ability to tell a story and creating compelling characters than it is making a visual experience. Movies are more visual to attract foreign audiences, and that's why they're getting music video directors control of feature films. Unfortunately, most of them can't tell a story in a compelling way.

Finally, the new batch of actors suck. Gone are the days when talent had anything to do with success. All you need is a franchise that sells and a good publicist (and fees paid to the tabloids). Oh, and a jump start as a model ("Gossip Girl," anyone?). See Robert Pattinson for an example.

Just think, if they invested in people with talent, then this wouldn't be a problem.

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Tue May 31, 2011 10:57 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
May I just ask, are independent theatres very common in the States? The nearest one to me is in Reading (I've heard, never been) which is a half hour drive and as far as I know the next furthest is Southampton; another hours drive away on top of that.

A stage theatre in town shows big movies in limited runs but I'm not sure if that counts or not...


Tue May 31, 2011 11:09 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Outside the big cities I bet most theaters arestill like they were in 1980. I know ours is. When only a % of the population can even has access to 3D (let alone surround sound), Cameron has lost. Also, for $10+, it better be one great experience but there are only a few theaters who try. Maybe give us old Looney Tunes shorts pre-movie or something.


Tue May 31, 2011 11:22 pm
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Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
You may hate Pattison(as do I) but you can't deny that he sells a TON of tickets, mostly from teenage girls, so it's easy to see why Hollywood invests in him. Whether an actor or actress is talented or not is strictly a matter of opinion, just cause you say an actor sucks dosen't make it a fact(Even Pattison could potentially not suck if he actually chose a decent film), so there's NO gurantee that investing in actors/actresses you consider "talented" would make a significant difference, "How Do You Know"? had a pretty impressive cast and it bombed pretty badly, so you just never know. Bottom line, Hollywood dosen't like taking risks as it only tends to pay off 50% of the time, successes like Inception are once in a blue moon, more often not you have failures like Watchmen. Hollywood keeps churning out would-be blockbuster films, because if they throw enough of them at the wall, some are bound to succeed, it's been that way for decades and it's not gonna change anytime soon. As for 3-D, well i'm fortunate enough to be pretty close to a theater that always has a 2-D showing, nevertheless i'd still be ecstatic if this post-conversion crap stopped(there was one film that was thankfully spared, MGM's long delayed Cabin In The Woods was supposed to get the 3-D treatment, but MGM's bankruptcy forced them to cancel they're conversion plans for the film, thank god for that!)


Tue May 31, 2011 11:28 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
ck100 wrote:
"The Greatest Show is universally derided as one of the three least-deserving Best Picture winners."

What are the other two?


I am guessing Broadway Melody and Crash.


Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:23 am
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Vexer wrote:
You may hate Pattison(as do I) but you can't deny that he sells a TON of tickets, mostly from teenage girls, so it's easy to see why Hollywood invests in him. Whether an actor or actress is talented or not is strictly a matter of opinion, just cause you say an actor sucks dosen't make it a fact(Even Pattison could potentially not suck if he actually chose a decent film), so there's NO gurantee that investing in actors/actresses you consider "talented" would make a significant difference, "How Do You Know"? had a pretty impressive cast and it bombed pretty badly, so you just never know. Bottom line, Hollywood dosen't like taking risks as it only tends to pay off 50% of the time, successes like Inception are once in a blue moon, more often not you have failures like Watchmen. Hollywood keeps churning out would-be blockbuster films, because if they throw enough of them at the wall, some are bound to succeed, it's been that way for decades and it's not gonna change anytime soon. As for 3-D, well i'm fortunate enough to be pretty close to a theater that always has a 2-D showing, nevertheless i'd still be ecstatic if this post-conversion crap stopped(there was one film that was thankfully spared, MGM's long delayed Cabin In The Woods was supposed to get the 3-D treatment, but MGM's bankruptcy forced them to cancel they're conversion plans for the film, thank god for that!)


He was in 'Goblet Of Fire' and really didn't suck in the slightest!


Wed Jun 01, 2011 12:55 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
Really? :? I never noticed him in that film before.


Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:01 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
I'm sure there are a number of factors at work that influence the infrequency of my trips to the theater, but by far the biggest one is the quality of the content. I consider the theatrical experience to be the "premium" experience. You travel, you pay the big price, you see the movie in deluxe accommodations. Not many movies deserve this kind of treatment. Nowadays, I find that most of them don't.

Incidentally, while the apparent size of a big screen TV as seen from the couch may be fairly close to the apparent size of the screen in the theater as seen from a reasonable distance in the auditorium, there is still a big difference. I have seen Taxi Driver and 2001: A Space Odyssey many times in the comforts of home, but I have also seen them theatrically. There is absolutely no comparison. Other things being equal, an excellent home viewing experience is still a poor man's substitute for a typical theatrical experience.

Of course, by anecdotal evidence, the typical theatrical experience seems to be consistently marred by rowdy patrons, projection failures, etc. I find that the reality, while not perfect, is not nearly as bad. The problems I notice with regularity are patrons chatting or texting on their phones and problems with the picture--be it too dim, temporarily out of focus, or whatever. These are persistent but minor annoyances.

Every so often, a more serious problem will occur, but those situations are so memorable precisely because of their rarity. While I sympathize with the frustration JB must have felt over the equipment failure at the Thor screening, it is not evidence of an overall decline in the quality of the theatrical experience.


Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:14 pm
Post Re: May 31, 2011: "They Just Don't Get It"
virusts wrote:
ck100 wrote:
"The Greatest Show is universally derided as one of the three least-deserving Best Picture winners."

What are the other two?


I am guessing Broadway Melody and Crash.


What about "Chicago"? "A Beautiful Mind"? "Gladiator"?


Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:32 pm
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