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Robert Iger urges movie industry to rethink DVD release policy

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Robert Iger urges movie industry to rethink DVD release policy

Old 08-10-05, 02:30 PM
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Robert Iger urges movie industry to rethink DVD release policy

From IMDB:

Disney Earnings Rise -- Except for Studio Unit

Disney's latest quarterly report looked much like a balloon animal created by a party entertainer. Parts of the company, like TV and theme parks, expanded significantly while other parts, like movies and DVD sales, deflated. All told, however, the company's profits rose 41 percent to $851 million, versus $604 million for the comparable quarter a year ago. Profits for ABC, its owned TV stations, and ESPN were up 48 percent from a year ago. ABC in particular was aided by the hit shows Desperate Housewives and Lost. However, the company's movie studio division saw a $34-million loss, primarily due to soft DVD sales. In a conference call with analysts, incoming Disney CEO Robert Iger urged the movie industry to rethink its policy of releasing movies on DVDs months after they are shown in theaters. He suggested that it might be wise to release them on both platforms simultaneously. "I think all the old rules should be called into question because rules of consumption have changed," Iger said.
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Old 08-10-05, 02:36 PM
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God I hope this never happens. Movie theaters would just sink away. People are lazy, pure and simple. They'd just rent it and never leave their houses.

Soon we'll have people doing full musicals in people's backyards.

So stupid.
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Old 08-10-05, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by digitalfreaknyc
God I hope this never happens. Movie theaters would just sink away. People are lazy, pure and simple. They'd just rent it and never leave their houses.
Either way, you're sitting in a room watching a screen. How is one situation lazier than another? The convenience and quality of DVDs are actually making people realize they have a choice in the matter, and they're making it. The whole "theater vs. DVD" has already been debated to death, so if you still love movie theaters...just go there. If you don't, don't. Simple as that.
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Old 08-10-05, 03:03 PM
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What's funny is that they're still making A LOT of money off of dvds - more than enough to recoupe any costs and make plenty profits, only the % of increase compared to last year is lower - and I guess every year has to end bigger than the one before it. How long must this go on before you start canabalizing yourself?
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Old 08-10-05, 03:13 PM
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So I guess if they go ahead and release the movies simultaneously, a straight to DVD release would not have a negative connotation anymore.
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Old 08-10-05, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Randy Miller III
Either way, you're sitting in a room watching a screen. How is one situation lazier than another? The convenience and quality of DVDs are actually making people realize they have a choice in the matter, and they're making it. The whole "theater vs. DVD" has already been debated to death, so if you still love movie theaters...just go there. If you don't, don't. Simple as that.
You're kidding right? you have to actually get up and go to a theater as opposed to pay-per-view or a blockbuster membership. It's sent to your home. Most people consider the act of going to the movies a hassle.

And although it's been debated to death, this is a thread talking about that same "debate" so, in the immortal words of Alec Baldwin, "if you don't like it, leave."
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Old 08-10-05, 03:29 PM
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I don't have a real favorite in the theater vs DVD debate. I like both, but I can definitely understand people that don't want to go to theaters. It can be expensive if you want popcorn and a soda and it can be a downright terrible experience with many of the rude asses that you find in theaters.

However, I would really miss the big screen experience if it was completely lost as I have had many more good experiences than bad. You can almost guarantee that most theaters would go under if this happened.

Personally I don't understand butchering your ticket sales to help your DVD sales. Makes no sense to me when they are making a ton of money with the current system. I guess someones bonus check is based on percent sales increases for DVDs.
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Old 08-10-05, 03:39 PM
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As it is, the theatrical release helps retailers gauge interest in a DVD. If Fantastic Four made $160 million at the B.O. and Elektra only made $25, they know to order more FF than Elektra.

If stores ordered the same on both, since they're both Marvel Comics properties and from the same studio, most stores would have to sit on a lot of unsold Elektras.
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Old 08-10-05, 03:41 PM
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I do wonder if it really would kill sales the way people think. The window between the threatrical and home video release is already short enough that many people have no trouble waiting for the DVD for movies that aren't that compelling.

And some statistics have shown that those with the big home theater systems tend to attend movies in the theater more often than those who don't own such home theaters.

And no telling whether such a movie would increase the market overall. I know I've gone to movies, and if it had been available on DVD that day, I would've bought it. But when the DVD comes out four or five months later, I'm not interested anymore (or I've forgotten about it in the interim).

Quite frankly, why save the theatrical experience if the only advantage is that its first. If it has nothing to offer except the ability to show a movie a few months before people can watch it in other forms, there's no real point for the theatrical experience to continue to exist.

Personally, I think some studio should try this with a few relatively high profile releases and see what happens. I know Mark Cuban's company has released a couple of films on DVD day-and-date with the theatrical release, but those were very low-profile titles, so it's hard to extrapolate that experience to bigger movies.

Personally I don't understand butchering your ticket sales to help your DVD sales.

I'm actually surprised the studios aren't trying this for this very reason. The profit generated from a DVD sale is considerably higher than that of a movie ticket. Not to mention that only having to advertise the release for one date (rather than having to do reminder advertising several months later for the DVD release) could save a significant amount of money per release.

More profit, lower costs. I can see why studios would want to do that.
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Old 08-10-05, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by digitalfreaknyc
You're kidding right? you have to actually get up and go to a theater as opposed to pay-per-view or a blockbuster membership. It's sent to your home. Most people consider the act of going to the movies a hassle.

And although it's been debated to death, this is a thread talking about that same "debate" so, in the immortal words of Alec Baldwin, "if you don't like it, leave."
Ah, I thought you meant actually leaving the house to go to Blockbuster. I agree that it might be lazier to get rental DVDs shipped to your house vs. actually going to a theater, but the convenience of watching at home makes it more appealing to families and the like. By the way, I was just implying that it's pointless to debate laziness centered around sitting and watching a screen, regardless of where you do it.

I'm not demeaning the theater experience or prophesizing the end of multiplexes as we know it, I'm just saying that people have choices now that they didn't have decades ago...and they're making their opinions known. I sure don't see nearly as many films in the theater as I did 10 years ago, but that doesn't mean I've stopped going altogether.

By the way, it's silly to ask me to leave for disagreeing with you---after all, I ended my first post without trying to force my opinions on anyone. People have every right to speak with their wallets. They will.

Last edited by Randy Miller III; 08-10-05 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 08-10-05, 04:03 PM
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I'll demean the theater experience. Audio is better at my house, and video really damn close. I don't go there unless dragged, anymore. Maybe I should just invite our quad uncle over to my house now, instead of taking him out to the theater. The exercise will come from getting him down and up the stairs.

It would be cool to not have to wait for the disc. Theater owners can kiss my ass. If they bothered to make sure the electronics actually work, if they bothered to keep the place clean, if they bothered to have decent customer service, if they bothered to turn on all the speakers for every show, if they bothered to enforce rules about being quiet, etc., I would go back. I don't really complain about the prices as much as the other stuff above, but it isn't cost effective to me when I can buy the DVD and have all 5 of us watch it for the cost of 1.5 tickets.
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Old 08-10-05, 04:03 PM
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There was an article about the diminishing economic impact of theatrical releases on CNN's website last Monday....

http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/Movi...iew/index.html

It quotes Edward Jay Epstein, an author and a columnist on Slate.com:

Theatrical movies -- what are called "current production" in studio parlance -- are simply a sliver of the overall entertainment business, and a money-losing one at that, Epstein says. Today, the profits are elsewhere, in the various ways a conglomerate can spin off a two-hour feature, from video sales to action-figure merchandising...

"Nothing says there has to be [theatrical] movies," says Epstein. "All the theater chains started as vaudeville, and they were all replaced by movie theaters. Opera was replaced by recorded music. ... As home theater [grows], you can lose movie theaters..."

He observes that the "window" -- the time separating a movie's theatrical release from its video release -- is getting smaller, and "the video people [in the media companies] are getting stronger."

As that happens -- and home theater systems improve -- more people will wait until a movie comes out on video, he says.

Hollywood executives are thinking along the same lines. "Ten years from now, we'll release a film and you'll be able to consume it however you want," Sony Pictures Digital Vice Chairman Yair Landau told Newsweek.

Where that leaves the theatrical film is anyone's guess.
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Old 08-10-05, 04:30 PM
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I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to the theater this year. Star Wars and Hitchhiker's. I saw Eps 1 and 2 multiple times in the theaters, but I've only seen ROTS once, even with it being the best of the PT. It seems to have disappeared from the theatres pretty quickly, and knowing the DVD release is so soon, I'm pretty much resigned to waiting.


You know, if wishes were horses...., having the studios move away from using theaters as the "big sell" first, might open the door for more revival showings of older movies. There'll always be a big market for that. If the studios are smart, they'd lease the prints to the theatres dirt cheap, and it would also be more advertising for the DVDs if it were to make new fans of a movie.
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Old 08-10-05, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by digitalfreaknyc
God I hope this never happens. Movie theaters would just sink away. People are lazy, pure and simple. They'd just rent it and never leave their houses.

Soon we'll have people doing full musicals in people's backyards.

So stupid.
I prefer to watch movies at home and it has nothing to do with being "lazy". I have better quality audio at home, better quality video (even if a smaller viewing size) and no cell phones, no crying kids, no talking teens, etc. Honestly the *only* reason I *ever* go to the theaters any more is because my wife and I like movie theater popcorn.
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Old 08-10-05, 04:47 PM
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I only go to theaters to see Star Wars films. Since there are no more Star Wars films on the horizon, then guess where I consume my movies... I consume them at home where the price per person diminishes with each viewing, the food is better, the sound is better, and the picture is better.

Sorry, but I'm tired of paying a premium to watch a film in a theater and having Shaniqua behind me yacking away on her cell phone to LaToya and Billy-Joe-Jimbob's 8 monsters (all ages 1-7) running up and down the aisles and screaming while their trailer-trash parents act like nothing is going on. NO THANK YOU.
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Old 08-10-05, 04:49 PM
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Ignoring what everyone has posted, (I don't have time to get drawn in to the argument currently - just giving my thoughts), but I would love to see this. I have been to a theater 2 times this year. Once out of need - waiting for a plane, and once with free tickets. Trust me, there is nothing so appealing about it that I would not rather buy the movie and stay in for the evening. The crowds are irritating and although I love previews, I also like to be able to get to the movie at my pace. The other night I sat through 2 commercials for Coke products, about 8 trailers, and a couple of concession advertisements before Dukes of Hazzard started. That is absurd, about 20 minutes worth of bs to get to the movie. Once I move back to my hometown in a few months, I will go to movies more as we have a drive in theater ($5 each, two movies, socialization for several hours before, between and after the movies). Regular theaters offer me nothing I can not have at home except sheer size - which, by the time you sit so far back is only relatively better than home. I think the theater would still survive, because it would still serve a purpose for many people - maybe they could lower the percentage the theater pays so prices could go down a little.
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Old 08-10-05, 05:20 PM
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Of course I prefer to watch films at home on my own set-up and time. (though I recently caught Jaws on the big-screen - and as good a set-up I have, it just doesn't compare - though my couches are FAR more comfortable, so I guess it's a fair trade)

But I'm afraid that if we move away from theaters being the prime and initial attraction, that film-making, and films themselves will very much change - and not for the better.

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Old 08-10-05, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Nuff
I prefer to watch movies at home and it has nothing to do with being "lazy". I have better quality audio at home, better quality video (even if a smaller viewing size) and no cell phones, no crying kids, no talking teens, etc. Honestly the *only* reason I *ever* go to the theaters any more is because my wife and I like movie theater popcorn.
I completely agree. You mentioned something that is a real annoyance of mine: Too many theaters think Volume=Quality when it comes to the audio.
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Old 08-10-05, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by digitalfreaknyc
God I hope this never happens. Movie theaters would just sink away. People are lazy, pure and simple. They'd just rent it and never leave their houses.

Soon we'll have people doing full musicals in people's backyards.

So stupid.
Movie theaters are going away anyway. It is a broken business model when a business gets less profit from their primary product (the movie) than from all other items (food).

Few people like the noise, disruptions, poor conditions, poor equipment etc., and it is only going to get worse as the price of bigger better equipment comes down.

This business idea makes perfect sense. I think the studios should merchandise it this way too. Sell a strictly limited edition DVD, movie programs, lobby cards AT THE THEATER ONLY! Do this while the movie is showing. Drive traffic to the theaters, then sell the regular versions in stores.
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Old 08-10-05, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by slop101
But I'm afraid that if we move away from theaters being the prime and initial attraction, that film-making, and films themselves will very much change - and not for the better.
Maybe the mainstream boxoffice movies would get worse (it's hard to imagine it getting worse than it is already), but I doubt it'll have any impact on independent and foreign films - where theatrical runs are quite limited.
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Old 08-10-05, 05:44 PM
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However, the company's movie studio division saw a $34-million loss, primarily due to soft DVD sales. In a conference call with analysts, incoming Disney CEO Robert Iger urged the movie industry to rethink its policy of releasing movies on DVDs months after they are shown in theaters. He suggested that it might be wise to release them on both platforms simultaneously.
This doesn't make any sense. The studio division lost money because of poor DVD sales, so the cure is to release movies on DVD at the same time as in the theaters? How does that help? Rather than hit some people twice (see it in the theaters, then buy it on DVD), many will just buy the DVD. No sense at all, and I don't think he's being quoted correctly (it is from IMDB after all).
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Old 08-10-05, 05:47 PM
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It's all about control. When you go to the theater, here are some of the things that are out of your control:
  • Image quality
  • Audio quality
  • Audio level
  • Comfort of the seats
  • The noise in the room
  • Latecomers stepping on your feet
  • People blocking your view of the screen
  • Snack quality and cost
  • Movie start times
  • Trailers and ads
  • The ability to use the rest room without missing anything
  • Cost of gas/parking/babysitter, etc.
And yet, I'll still go out 2-3 times a month, if only to support the films I want to see. Movies like Me and You and Everyone We Know, March of the Penguins, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, and Broken Flowers will almost certainly be better experiences on my 106" inch screen at home. But I went out to see them because they're interesting films that deserve to be seen, and without theatrical revenue they might not be.

P.S. Going to sparsely attended matinees helps a lot.
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Old 08-10-05, 05:55 PM
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Let's hear from a few more old fogies with fancy AV systems at home... because you are the people that the studios are most concerned about losing.

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Old 08-10-05, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Peep
Let's hear from a few more old fogies with fancy AV systems at home
So no one under 50 is allowed to have a fancy AV system?

P.S. The proper term is "geezers."
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Old 08-10-05, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Spiky
I'll demean the theater experience. Audio is better at my house, and video really damn close
Originally Posted by Nuff
I have better quality audio at home, better quality video (even if a smaller viewing size) and...
unless you two own both 2k christie dlp projectors and collect movies on D5, this isn't possible. if you collect SD DVD's like the rest of us, resolution is going to be, at best, no more than half that of a distribution film print. I have 110" dlp front projection home theater and would never mistake a DVD for a film print's superior color rendition, dynamic range, sharpness and level of detail.

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