Posts filed under “Film”

DVRs — Not PCs — will be Home’s Media Center

THE online REPORTER notes that its the DVR — not PCs — which will dominate the home media center:

"It’s increasingly unlikely that the PC will become the media center for the home’s entertainment network; as we have reported previously particularly after the cablecos’ NCTA trade show in April and the telcos’ SuperComm trade show in June. It’s the DVR, not the PC, that will probably emerge as the central repository for home entertainment for a number of reasons:

- DVRs are already connected to a TV – no fiddling around with hooking up a PC.
- Content delivered to a DVR is more secure than that downloaded to a PC. The studios and labels have more confidence in the copy protection of DVRs than they are of PCs.
- DVRs are also capable of storing music, which can be played on the stereo or surround system.
- Media Center PCs are costly, noisy, heat producing and frankly unattractive. They don’t fit into the décor of other home entertainment gear.
- DVRs are already storing lots of entertainment video – movies, TV shows – that come into the home.
- DVRs can be equipped to handle downloaded video and video-on-demand.
- DVRs can store digital pictures and home videos.
- DVRs can be capable of playing on any TV in the home.
- Most homes already have coax cabling that can be used for an entertainment network.
- The cable and satellite TV companies already have an "in" into the home – to the decision maker – with gear already in place and a billing relationship already established.
- DVRs don’t have spyware, malware, spam, adware, viruses or the other maladies that afflict PCs. It’s bad enough dealing with it at the office. Who wants to wrestle with a PC when it’s time to kick back and relax?

What consumers lose with a DVR-based entertainment network is the flexibility and processing that a computer provides. However, the PC has proven to be leaky -and difficult- when it comes to security to integrate with conventional home entertainment gear such as the TV and stereo.

Let no one think that Microsoft hasn’t noticed the PC’s failure to become the center of the home entertainment network. It’s working to become the software that goes into all the IPTV-based DVRs that the world’s phone companies are thinking about buying.

The PC has made a convenient device for ripping and burning PCs and as a way station for getting songs off the Net in order to copy them to a portable music player, but as a video download and storage center, it’s come up short.

Here’s betting the DVR wins out over the PC in the home entertainment space.

Category: Film, Music, Technology, Television

Why is Movie Theatre Revenue Attendance Declining?

There’s been plenty of chatter about declining movie theatrical revenue attendance. You just know the MPAA is itching to tie this onto piracy somehow and thus get some favorable legislation.

Let’s nip this one in the bud, shall we? 5 6 7 factors are hurting theater attendance:

1) Social factors eroding theater environment (talking, cell phones, babies crying, etc.); 
2) Sacrificing long term relationships with theater-goers for the increase in short term profitability (commercials, no ushers, etc.);
3) Higher quality experience elsewhere (Home theater);
4) Declining quality of mainstream movies;
5) Easily available Long Tail content alternatives (Netflix, Amazon);
6) Price;
7) Demographics: Aging babyboomers simply go out to movies less.

While content quality has indeed worsened over the years, it shouldn’t be the main concern this Summer:  As of late, there have been a spate of movies which have been either well-reviewed (Batman Begins) or had good word-of-mouth (Wedding Crashers) or incredible special effects perfectly suited to the big screen (Revenge of the Sith or War of the Worlds).

So what else might be the source of declining theatrical fortunes?

Well, how about the movie theater-going experience itself? The adventure of heading to a cineplex is becoming a less and less pleasant form of entertainment. Many of the headaches involved have been painfully detailed by Bob Lefsetz’ readers (see their ordeals below).

Note that we are not even discussing content quality at this point.

Then there are the adverts. A recent L.A.Times article – Now playing: A glut of ads — points out that even studio executives were stunned by 15 minutes of commercials theatre goers had to endure after paying their 10 bucks:

"As head of production at New Line Cinema, Toby Emmerich is not your typical moviegoer. So when he wanted to see "War of the Worlds" the other night, his choice was between seeing the film in a theater with a tub of popcorn or watching it in a screening room at Jim Carrey’s house, with a private chef handling the culinary options. Despite this seemingly loaded deck, Emmerich opted for a real theater.

"I love seeing a movie with a big crowd," he says. "But I had no idea how many obnoxious ads I’d have to endure — it really drove me crazy. After sitting through about 15 minutes of ads, I turned to my wife and said, ‘Maybe we should’ve gone to Jim Carrey’s house after all.’ "

When DreamWorks marketing chief Terry Press took her young twins to see "Robots" this year, she said, "My own children turned to me and said, ‘Mommy, there are too many commercials!’ Now, when the lights go halfway down, I’m filled with dread. The whole uniqueness of the moviegoing experience is being eroded by all the endless ads."  (emphasis added)

So while the industry laments piracy, consider if you will why going to the theatre has become so much less enjoyable than watching DVD films on your own big screen in the comfort of your home theatre.   

The theatres have adapted Radio’s disasterous Hamburger Helper approach: Short term increases in profitability in exchange for alienating your core audience, who eventually seek out a more enjoyable substitute. Quite frankly, I’m astonished the film industry has (contractually)
allowed theatre owners to degrade their copyright protected product by
diminishing the experience so dramatically.

As Radio has so painfully learned, the end result is a big fat Buh-bye!

To a large degree, this is  a zero sum game: The theatre chains losses are Best Buys’ gain; Is it any surprise that high quality home sound systems and large screen TV sales have gone through a ginormous growth spurt over the past 5 years? Even as the lowest common denominator productions falter, Netflix (and its rivals) allow home theater owners to enjoy a Long Tail orgy of DVD content. 

Yo, theatre owners, when a segment of retail electronics called HOME THEATRE explodes in sales, that is your wake up call. You seem to have been oblivous, and missed the bell ringing.

Good luck getting the toothepaste back in the tube!


UPDATE: July 25, 2005 7:37pm
At Slate, Edward Jay Epstein explains the numbers behind decreased attendance on increased revenue. Fascinating stuff . . .


UPDATE II: August 30, 2005 12:07pm
A weekend NYT article, titled Summer Fading, Hollywood Sees Fizzle quotes an exec as blaming the quality of flicks:

"Part of this is the fact that the movies may not have lived up to the
expectations of the audience, not just in this year, but in years prior," said
Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which had some flops
this summer, including the science fiction action movie "Stealth"
and the romantic comedy "Bewitched."
"Audiences have gotten smart to the marketing, and they can smell the good ones
from the bad ones at a distance."



Now Playing: A Glut Of Ads
The Big Picture
Patrick Goldstein
L. A. Times, July 12, 2005,1,35978.story

Lefstz Letter
June 5, 2005
(complete sourcing below)

Summer Fading, Hollywood Sees Fizzle
NYTimes, August 24, 2005


Continue to see Lefsetz’ readers critique of the theater experience . . .


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