What’s The Future of Movies?
How we watch movies has made a quantum leap over the last fifteen years. Video on demand, multiple streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, torrenting, and in some cases even watching new movies-the same day they release in theaters-from the comfort of your own home. Part of these plethora of options stem from the explosion of various technologies too. In truth you could say they’ve happened concurrently. The fact that I can stream Game of Thrones at work on my lunch break is pretty freaking sweet.
Yet with these advances comes the very real possibility that how we watch movies may undergo even more radical changes. Let’s just address the elephant in the room. Could movie theaters actually go the way of Michael Richards’ career? I don’t think so. Deep down I think real movie fans still want that communal experience of going to the movies. At least I do. So I could be biased. Or delusional. Or old. Yeah probably delusional. Hold on I have to go shake my fist at a cloud.
Ok I’m back.
Anyway, I recognize that our modern lives are busy. Digital downloads are convenient for example. That’s one of the reasons I made the switch to all digital. That and the desire to limit the amount of stuff I accumulate. But I can conceive of a time where theaters are a thing of the past. The reason being because of something I mentioned in the first paragraph. Namely, that VOD sometimes offers the option of viewing a movie at home the same day of its release. For example five years ago Melancholia was offered as a same day release on VOD for $9.99. Granted they aren’t always the best of films–usually movies that will end up on VOD sooner than later in most instances–however, it is more convenient than driving to your local multiplex, especially if you live in a rural area.
I can envision a time when the same day option consists of more than just mediocre movies with the occasional hidden gem. A time when you have the option to watch the latest Star Wars, Batman, or Avengers movie at home. In fact the idea has already been tossed around before. Although theater chains were less than receptive despite being offered a share of the profits. However, the question is not how much this would cost but what would be the best options for the customer? Because I think there’s something studios are missing when it comes to the VOD home experience.
Everything these days, especially as it pertains to entertainment, is about customization. The cover skins you have on your laptop, the way you configure the buttons on your controller, even jailbreaking phones so you can get certain apps that wouldn’t otherwise be available.
Same day release VOD at home should be no different. I have a proposal about how I think it would work best:
First off I think a tier system is necessary. It would be best if the price was commensurate with the anticipated reception of the film from a box-office perspective. Say I’m a fan of Indie movies but I’m not into the big blockbusters. Why should I have to pay the same amount for American Honey as I do Doctor Strange? It doesn’t make logical sense. To do so just seems greedy and I think would backfire in the studios’ faces. Furthermore, once the film is released in theaters, I think as time passes the cost should diminish. For example, once a month has passed the studios reduce the cost by $10.
Secondly, studios need to provide the purchase option. Say you finish the movie and decide, you want to own this sucker. At that point you should be given the option to buy the digital copy and/or the hard copy. Again I think some time should pass before you can purchase it. But from a convenience standpoint it would be a nice set up right then there to have the movie automatically delivered at X date, and the hard copy shipped to your house upon release.
Thirdly, I think studios should offer what I refer to as the “movie lemon law.” We’ve all had that experience where we wish we would’ve gotten our time and money back because of a shit show of a film. (Noah anyone?) What if thirty minutes into the film you could just pull the plug and get a refund? Not for the whole movie of course but at least for the portion of the time you watched it. Fifteen minute increments would be sufficient. Studios might balk at that but it would be a nice feature to offer the customer. I could even imagine clicking a lemon icon on your screen to activate the process.
I think inevitably that what I’ve described above in some fashion will come to fruition. It’s just a reflection of our current society and a natural progression from point A to point B. Whether or not it’s successful or not, both financially and from a cultural standpoint, remains to be seen.
While I’m still leery of movie theaters becoming antiquated, I’m confident that they will be here for the foreseeable a future. And if not…well…I ran across a quote by novelist Jay Asher that reflects my feelings. It’s something I’d like to close with. Asher wrote:
“You can’t stop the future, you can’t rewind the past, the only way to learn the secret…is to press play.”
You can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1 and watch for the latest movie, TV, and geek news stories at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/flicktasticmovies.