Monday, November 1, 2010

When will Movie Theatres die?

My wife and I had our 5th anniversary this last Friday. We went and saw the movie RED. We both enjoyed it and had a genuinely good time. We like going to the movies. However, we have a son now.

In order to go to the movie we had to get my dad to watch him. We had to arrange a time to drop him off and pick him up. This isn’t necessarily difficult, but we had to time everything against the Theater's listed Show Time.

This last weekend Christopher Nolan stated he wasn’t going to shoot the next Batman Movie in 3D. The next Harry Potter movie won’t be employing it as well.

As I thought about this news I began to wonder. When will the Movie Theater actually die? Movie Theater's have been around a long time. They have gone through hard times and good times. There have been some great innovations in screen and sound technology. But, as is often said, the times have changed.

Right now, Big Screen TV’s are becoming increasingly cheaper and with better options. Many of them have built in applications that connect you to Netflix, Youtube, Vudu, HuluPlus and other sites with streaming movies.

What I want to know is, which big name studio will be the first to completely abandon the Theater? I know smaller companies already have. But they primarily shoot made for TV movies or pornography. I’m talking about large quality movies for the mainstream.

There are many advantages for the Production Companies to do so. They don’t have to create Posters, or those goofy giant stands for the Theater. They don’t have to make multiple copies of the film and ship them to the theaters. There wouldn’t be any groups trying to hijack one of these film copies and uploading it to the internet and cutting into the profits. Only two copies of the movie ever need to be made, the physical and the digital.

There are advantages to the consumer. I don’t have to drive to the theater. I don’t have to worry about getting germs from the crowds. I don’t have to work out logistics with my family to watch my kids, so the wife and I can have a date. We can wait for them to go to bed and start and pause the movie as we need. We can bring our own snacks to the living room.

A Studio can negotiate with Netflix, Vudu or whichever site they choose, a new category for newly produced movies. Ask for $5 per stream or whichever price they think this service is worth.

This type of thing already goes on in the Software world. I regularly buy games on Steam and now Impulse. I purchase the software, download it and play it. If I need the hard drive space back I can delete the local copy, but the software is forever tied to my account. I can download it and play it again when I want to. Not having to make or keep physical copies around is convenient and starting to become more natural.

I know I am not original at all in my thoughts above. I have heard it for years, even back when movies were being put on VHS and were being rented.

So who will be the first Studio to drive the nail in the Movie Theater's coffin? And more importantly, when will the hammer fall?

There is nothing like ending on a heavy metaphor.

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