The changing economics of cinema

Mark Cuban complains that on a given weekend there are hardly any new movies to see.  I’ve felt film-starved all year (with one notable exception), plus box office take has been down for 15 weeks in a row.  Cuban suggests some solutions:

1. Have a "big push" simultaneous DVD and pay-TV release of the film.

2. Sell DVDs at early release "premium" prices.

3. Allow theater owners to share in DVD profits, thus giving them an incentive to boost long-term interest in a movie.

Coming from another, this Slate piece argues the studios are spending too much on movie ads and need to cut back.

My take: We need the opposite of a "big push," and large TV screens, Netflix, and dowloading are providing precisely that. 

In the long run I expect the film industry to have two segments.  First, theaters will present an utterly mind-blowing multi-media experience, drawing on ideas from Scriabin and the modern rave.  Second, you will watch clever and often low-cost dramas and comedies at home.  The potential for illegal copying will keep down prices and also capital expenditures on these productions.

I could be very happy in this world, and happy or not, I am not optimistic about attempts to find a middle ground.  You’re not going to go to the theater unless it is for something pretty special.


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