In my humble opinion, the way movies are released today sucks. First they hit the theatres, then DVDs, then video-on-demand services, and finally television. The movie studios really like these different release windows for some reason. Why not release movies to all of these distribution channels at once? It makes a lot of sense to me. The hottest item during the Xmas shopping season in 2006 was probably HDTVs, and I suspect it will remain a big seller this year and next. Watching new releases like Spider-Man 3 in the comfort of my own home sounds very appealing.
The idea is finally being explored:
Comcast is trying to make the “simultaneous release” dream happen, but with prices being proposed in the $30-50 range per screening, the dream looks more like a Hollywood acid trip.
Yeah, that price simply isn’t going to fly. The article includes a bunch of really great analysis, so check it out.
Here are ten reasons why I think the “simultaneous release” dream needs to happen (in no particular order):
- Drinks and snacks at the theatre are horribly overpriced – talk about price gouging. Not to mention the cost of gas to get from your house to the theatre! I’d rather eat the food I already have in the house, thanks.
- There aren’t any crying kids, cell phones, or other distractions in my house. Oh and my floors aren’t sticky either.
- I don’t like being forced to sit through fifteen minutes of commercials before the movie previews start. It makes seeing a 90 minute movie a two hour experience (and that’s assuming you don’t line up to get good seats).
- Many people have invested thousands of dollars into a comfortable home theatre system – simultaneous releases let them make the most of it.
- Hollywood would make more money. Increased sales and reduced marketing expenses.
- Pause! You should control the viewing experience, not the theatre. Want to pause for a few minutes? Go for it.
- We’ll get better quality movies. Instead of making only movies that are likely to do well at the box office, Hollywood would be free to make all kinds of movies with each one being widely accessible.
- Theatre owners would be forced to revisit their business. Why do we go to the theatre? I think “to see a movie” is a secondary reason. The primary reason is to socialize. Perhaps theatres will come up with a better overall experience when their backs are against the wall.
- Independent and other small movie studios would play on the same field as the big boys. Remember all the trouble Mel Gibson had to go through to get The Passion of the Christ released in theatres? It wouldn’t have been such an issue in a world with simultaneous releases.
- Control over the volume. Control over the temperature. No parking necessary. You can lay down if you want. Etc.
Anything else? I think it’s only a matter of time until the simultaneous release becomes the norm.