Friday, March 25, 2005

Let's get some things straight

Cinema owners worry about ticket prices, too
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Now that I'm totally (and quite loudly) behind the idea that my future and fortune will all be had in the multiplex arena, things have become much simpler in my understanding of life. It now makes sense why I love articles like the one above (which I recommend). It basically says all the things we already know about the movie business, it's hard, concessions are everything, the distributors take all the money, and they're impossible to work with, yada yada. The thing I like about stories like these is that it separates the decision makers from the decisions that they inevitably have to make. The theater owners are people that are sympathetic with their patrons and do what they can.
"I call it the lousy-in-the-lobby experience," says Joseph Chabot, of Moore Theatres, a small chain of 19 screens in four locales outside of Kalamazoo, Mich. "People who've just come from the local fast-food restaurant know what soda costs," he says, "and they don't like paying two or three times as much just to carry it into the theater with them." Mr. Chabot and his partner, owner and president Carol Moore, say they have taken these concerns seriously and come up with a solution - self-service concession stands.

"We let people get their own drinks and popcorn and they love it," he says. "It saves them money and still allows us to make a profit." Chabot says they've seen audience numbers increase since they instituted the new service."
Which is a.) awesome, b.) genius, c.) humanitarian, d.) awesome.

And while we're on the topic of awesome, I occasionally try to strategically plant my principle ideas about running a movie theater in my posts here. But since we're at a crossroads here, taking what may be a highly criticized path to multiplexes over the little guys, I think it might help my position to lay out the things I stand for, and what I mean when I say I want to swim in screens. And let's start right out with the big 2:

1.) Cheap (if not free concessions)
2.) Deals with Distributors that make sense

There's nothing that bothers me more about this industry than the fact that it's widely acknowledged that one does not profit from actually _showing movies_. It's all so backwards. At one point when it was hard to get films places and distributors had real problems getting films on screens, the 90% of profits thing made a lot of sense. And since people were spilling out the doors, it just happened that you could survive with selling food on the side. But concessions are a _workaround_. As in absolutely not the primary business of a movie theater. How can one ever provide a satisfactory service to people when the primary business they are running is catering to a totally different service? How can a workaround be adopted as an industry wide standard and have everyone be ok with it?

I mean I understand why, but seriously, it can only lead to bad things. On so many levels. I have a number of philosophical problems with this whole approach, and the main one is that it doesn't address the problem at it's source. People can't afford to run movie theaters because the distribution deals are prohibitive. On top of that the studios use their infinite negotiation power to keep it that way in spite of its senselessness. Which just plain sucks.

But isn't that the point of having an association of theater owners? Why hasn't NATO used the unionized force to fight for this? And with studios so stupidly obsessing about piracy that doesn't even affect their sales, why don't the theater owners use this as leverage. Right now, the distributors want to roll out lame cash rewards for staff that identify camcorders in the audience. Why doesn't NATO negotiate a more reasonable distribution profit sharing deal for people who can ensure piracy won't occur. Ironically, this is probably because the studios would take a bigger hit from this than they ever would from Piracy, but at least they'd take care of their biggest public facing issue.

I could go on and on. I'm already pretty raving mad just thinking about it. :) But for the record, my idea of multiplex first and foremost includes both of these ideas for the public that utilizes them (which should pan out in either lower ticket prices or a more worthwhile experience). But the fat needs to get cut out. Across the entire industry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Over the weekend I had a rather sobering realization.

Owning a single screen movie theater may not be what I really want to do. The problem is that all of my experience, and all of the problems I want to take a chance to swing at all involve watching movies at 10 or 20 screen venues. Well, at least 6. Or more than 2. Or 1. Anyway, I looooove watching movies at multiplexes. Maybe that's not even it. Maybe all the movies I ever saw (limited run, indie films included) were all at multiplexes. When I walk in and out of big theaters, I just get this feeling of completion, of wholeness. I know it sounds ridiculous to be so reliant on huge allegedley soulless social spaces, but I don't find them so. I mean the Sony Metreon is my favorite theater!

I went to the Castro last week to watch Brazil, and it finally dawned on me that I'm just not used to watching movies in single screen houses. Since I decided that my life goal was to own a theater, I've been convinced that any theater would do and something in the one or two screen range would be the most feasible. And so my project to visit all the movie theaters in the city has taken me to lots of classic single screen landmarks. And I'm always in awe of them. I love how they're conveniently placed in downtown areas and how they're so ornate and generally huge. But I've been confusing that awe for my love of movie theaters, which, in all honesty has nothing to do with these places.

What I want is to run a multiplex. And fix all the things wrong with multiplexes. I guess saying that I want to "own a movie theater" has been the problem. I've thought myself into thinking I wanted something not quite what I do want. If that makes any sense.

Martha likes to point out that I've had this crisis (out loud) several times before. Probably idle musing. Now it's for real. Small, old time movie theaters aren't for me. I want to be in charge of a multiplex. I thought I wanted to own one so I could make all the decisions myself, and I thought I wanted a small place so I could own it. But basically then I wouldn't be able to make the decisions I want. It'd be pointless. I don't know how many times I can repeat myself.

And for those of you cynics who think multiplexes are nothing but places to show non-stop hollywood crap, I have two things to say.
1.) I've been to state of the art multiplexes dedicated to showing independent films
2.) I'm so into hollywood crap

I was raised by seeing every movie that came to town. And while I'm discerning in my own way, I'd like to show 'Like Mike' as much as 'The Station Agent' and as much as 'Babe'. Movies to me are all about variety. And nothing can represent that variety as well as a multiplex.

I'm just saying.

This presents a couple of problems (and perhaps presents a few nice options) One problem is that my big plan was to run an outdoor tropical movie theater where I could build it up from the ground by hand. Try as I might, I've never been able to figure out a way to make an outdoor movie theater work in the multiplex setting. Not that I could ever afford a multiplex to own myself anyway. But perhaps my interest in the outdoor theater is like my interest in the movie palaces around town (although I like watching movies outdoors way more than I do in the movie palaces). Which means that I would be on the wrong end of the deal again. Maybe all I need to do is get into a position with the local multiplex. Which is nice because it doesn't require as much start up capital (less urgency for saving) and probably much much more feasible (which in a weird way -- I think makes more sense)

Martha says I'm selling out, to which I just shrug (lovingly). As much as I would love to be a business owner, there's just no need. There are plenty of theaters. They're just broken. I wouldn't be helping anything by lighting up more screens. This has always been what I want to do. I've just been very quick to forget it in order to make it seem more attainable...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Martha is the Queen of the Internet

As employees of the world's most valiant effort to organize information it seems a rather natural decision to finally start putting the tools we support (AdSense and AdWords) to some good use. I'm too lazy to do so, but Martha has never been one to shy away from tinkering with ads, and the results have been fabulous.

In spite of my protests, she added AdSense to the blog and we've already gotten some fantastic leads! Check out the following sites on outdoor movie theater systems.

Awesome? Awesome.

But on the flip side of the coin, she also started an AdWords campaign to start directing traffic for those people interested in starting movie theaters (like minded folks) to my blog! In fact if you're reading this, it's possibly how you got here (unless you got here through the other ad she put up for my name). I've already gotten a few emails from people. And I tell them exactly what this blog tells them which is to get their tails over to the Moxie. Until I'm as deep in the trenches as the Moxie folks, I'm gonna act as the supreme traffic director of the world and hopefully make some friends along the way. Be my friend!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Digital Distribution ... German Style

T-Systems Launches one-of-a-kind, end to end Digital Cinema Distribution System
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Does anybody talk about anything other than Digital Cinema these day? These stories keep rolling in, and I'm inclined to get excited. Jumping on the bandwagon if you will. Although if you consider that I built the bandwagon and have been riding it for a long time, I'm an old timey jumper.
"The T-Systems solution, which connects U.S. studios with European theatres and filmmakers shooting in Europe with U.S. producers, includes a secure Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network linking Los Angeles and Germany, the German- based play-out center called Digital Cinema Factory and the in-theatre server. It also incorporates the Texas Instruments CineLink™ security management and the CineCanvas™ image management systems. The in-theatre server is compatible with all 2K DLP™ projectors currently on the market. Rounding out the system is the ASTRA European satellite service.

Executives will demonstrate the T-Systems solution. They will explain the T-Systems products and process, as well as reveal how their "Net Key" card anti-piracy solution, which is server, theatre, screen and time and date specific, solves content owner security concerns. "
Of particular relevance is the info regarding the security. It puts into perspective what sorts of controls the distributors will be able to place on films. These are things to consider when negotiating contracts. Additionally it looks like there will be a strong way to link a pirated film to it's source theater and a way to incentivize theater owners to crack down on pirates. I.E. Stop the camcorders or you won't get the movies.

Digital Installation? Pocket Change!

Digital Film Creates New Buzz at ShoWest
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"Everyone agrees, however, the cost of installing systems is decreasing. At a deployment of 1,000 systems, the expense is now put at $75,000 to $85,000 per movie screen, said several sources. That is down from well over $100,000 last year."
This keeps getting better. 75K is almost something I can save up my own cash for. I wonder if there's room for it in the moxie budget. The report out of Showest is really exciting (I recommend you check this article out).

"Hollywood's studios are pushing digital cinema because it can shave millions of dollars off their distribution costs.

Theater owners are being told the computer networks that store and play movies from digital files can boost revenues by quickly reprograming screens to hits from flops, showing music concerts via satellite, displaying advertising and ushering in a new wave of three-dimensional movies."

Nice to see I'm on the same page as these guys.

"Doug Darrow, business manager for Texas Instruments' DLP Cinema group, said such a roll-out could begin by 2005's end, but Fithian said 2006 or 2007 is a more likely time frame."

Which sounds a lot like the caution displayed by the DCI guy in an earlier post here. Caution is good, but I think an eager market (on both the production and consumption side) will push this along as fast as it can go.

Ahh Paris

Cinema City: Paris the best place in the world to watch film
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"Neither addicted to film nor blind to this city’s inexhaustible charms, I go to the movies in Paris in all weathers and all seasons because it is, by a wide margin, the best place in the world to watch film. Los Angeles, London, even New York pale when it comes to the sheer number and variety of choices — about 300 titles, three times the best top U.S. cities can manage, and many of them in English. Paris’ riches include a peerless selection of American films from Hollywood’s golden age, playing every week of the year. After all, this was the first city to show films publicly (a plaque at 14 Boulevard des Capucines celebrates that Dec. 28, 1895, event), and it is loath to give up its pre-eminence."
What makes this so astoundingly relevant is that Martha and I just got back from Paris and saw no fewer than two films there! And in our limited experience being parisians, I have to say I agree with Mr. Turan's assessment of the film culture. The theater I loved the most "Studio Galande" (which should be covered soon in movies and sweets) played a different movie for every timeslot over 3 or four days. I've never seen another venue be able to do this and wondered if it was some sort of french anomaly. We ran into several theaters like these and having the film culture explained makes everything make more sense. I liked their MO. One screen, one person on staff, no concessions and movies played back to back to back to back (the next one literally starting before the last one finished rolling credits) And each film still had about 10 - 20 people in it (on weekdays in the middle of the day).

I want to run my theater like that. Maximum film variety with minimum to work with. I have a feeling I can make it work, even in Hawaii. Although I think it'll take an assist from Digital Cinema going the way I expect it to.

Where's my Digital Cinema?

The Big Picture: A Digital Cinema Initiative Update
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"But what happens to common business practices? Today theatres often violate the strict letter of their rights agreements by, for example, switching prints from a larger venue to a smaller one. Everybody knows what’s happening and looks the other way, says Ordway, because “everybody makes money.” Theoretically, that’s not possible in the digital world. If the encryption technology is too tight, significant business changes will be required. If it’s too loose there won’t be the flexibility in the system the people are accustomed to today."
Huh? Obviously there will need to be some changes in the way contracts are spelled out, but either the reporter didn't understand what was going on or I don't. Increased security means _more_ flexibility? In that case, I'm all for increased security (I am, for real, not facetiously).
"Ordway believes that a retrofit of the digital systems currently in place around the world is impossible. “I’m ninety-nine percent certain it can’t be done,” he says, “no matter what anyone says.” If nothing else, the servers that drive them don’t have the secure decryption specifications spelled out by the DCI. People don’t retrofit projectors, he says, adding “All the electronic stuff [that supports them] gets replaced.”

"Since you said, “widely implemented”, I would guess that it might be at least 4 to 6 more years. That is different from when the initial rollout might take place, which I would guess would take place in the next year or so."
To me, all this points to being cautious about when one chooses to take on their digital technology switch. Obviously, the guy in charge of defining the standard will be on the cautious side, but he is probably the most knowledgeable. In order to not buy something obselete or at too much of a first mover premium, I think 2 years might be a good time to get a jump on the technology, maybe even a year.

Although I think that being the first place to offer true digital screenings in your area might be a huge advantage (ESPECIALLY if you cut the deal properly). You'd have the people who come for the wow and to see what it's all about. And the DCI standard should deliver. But you should also get preferential treatment from the studios trying to show off their new wares and have the flexibility(?) to show more movies since they get their faster with less pain.

All this is in my imagination, of course. The key being the contracts about which Ordway had this to say:
"Third, in the business world of film distribution and exhibition, there are contractual agreements. In the digital world, many aspects of the contractual agreements would be incorporated into the “digital rights management” (DRM) issues in the Digital Cinema security system. The issue of DRM has opened the door to the need for new agreements. The Digital Cinema systems to be delivered will have to accommodate any new distribution/exhibition agreements that pertain to DRM. In the meantime, companies developing systems have to assume that what they are developing will have the DRM features that might be required by the various distribution/exhibition agreements. The timing for formal agreements between distribution and exhibition on DRM issues is not clear, but is underway."
One needs the lowdown on how these agreements are going to work out to see how they'll benefit. Anyone know how far along these are and where I can get my hands on something like this?

Other interesting bits from the article
-The final sticking points involve security on the films AFTER digital transfer (i.e. people camcording movies - they have solutions)
- The digital systems will have to be certified, but no one is sure by who
- The transition to digital sound yielded two important lessons. That there needs to be a single format and that it should not be proprietary (leaving the possibility for future growth) DCI accounts for both of these things.

Rentals Hurting ...because of shorter theatrical windows?

Short Windows on Top Hits Assist Sales, Hurt Rentals
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"Shorter windows boost consumer awareness, goosing sales, which dampen rentals."
I'm not really convinced that theirs a linear connection betwen these three things. I think a decline in rentals has more to do with rising availability of DVDs to a public that has rapidly become more accepting of the medium. As the discs continue to get cheaper and the gap between price of rental and price of purchase shrinks, people are naturally going to stop renting new movies the way they used to.
"While rental demand for box office hits has fallen, rentailers haven’t reduced their buy rates for top-grossing theatrical releases. They know that after rental demand is satisfied, they have a flourishing aftermarket for these hits in previously viewed title (PVT) sales."
Which is exactly what I'm talking about. They've basically become retailers for used goods. The "rentailers" really need to reimagine their business. After having gotten extremely caught up in the DVD buying craze and owned far too many myself, I'm the first to say that rental places should definitely still have a place in our culture. But they have to take a look at what service they actually provide and give it a reasonable price and restructure their business to provide it efficiently. The netflix subscription model is a decent start, but I think there must be something else that would be even better.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

$10 bucks ain't so bad!

India, U.S. Moviegoers Pay Least -New Costs Index
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"Moviegoers in India and the United States pay the least to see their favorite films, according to a new index that seeks to present a global picture of the comparative cost of entertainment.

Indians need to work just 16 minutes and Americans 24 to afford the price of a typical ticket to the movies in their respective countries compared with 35 minutes for Britons, 48 for Japanese and 123 for Bulgarians, who rank lowest on the Cinema Index from market researcher Screen Digest."
I always knew going to The Metreon was a bargain and a half! Seriously, this is pretty sweet. Although I have a sneaking suspicion that my particular San Francisco ticket price isn't what they're using as their average, it's nice to see that film entertainment is more available to Americans than to anyone else except India. Until they take all of our jobs. Can they outsource our theater staffing needs? I think I've been blogging long enough to earn a trip to the movies!


Connecticut Bill To Regulate Movie Listings Dies
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As seen earlier on this blog:
"West Hartford State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann was trying to get legislation to require movie theaters to list two start times.

One would say what time the ads and trailers start, the other would say the time the actual movie started.

The General Law committee has killed the bill."
But all is not lost. There may be a second coming.
"Fleischmann said that moviegoers are tired of being turned into captive audiences for endless ads. He plans to reintroduce the bill next year."
Apparently this congressman was _really_ pissed off about all this. Straight to the top. Truzy.

We might be seeing a lot more from IMAX...

Imax Posts Stronger Quarter, Forecast; Stock Jumps
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"The Mississauga, Ontario-based firm, which is run largely from New York, signed contracts for 36 theater systems in 2004, better than its forecast of 30 to 35 signings and its highest figure since 1999. It recognized revenue on 22 theater systems.
Imax said 22 of the contract signings were for its smaller MPX systems, which are designed to attract exhibitors that cannot accommodate its regular theaters, which have screens up to eight storeys high."
I wonder why people would feel the need to aggressively take on IMAX theaters. The content that they can accomodate just isn't up to par. But I guess more IMAXes being around might fix that. And of course the following...
"Imax has announced plans to release three Hollywood films converted to the Imax format: "Robots" on March 11, "Batman Begins" on June 17 and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on July 15."
I wonder if the digital projectors will be able to handle IMAX fidelity. That would help them out a lot.

The Presidential

White House Letter: With Hollywood help, Bush keeps up on films
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"The theater has been updated over the years, but its most extensive renovation came during the made-for-Hollywood presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Then the major studios of the time - Disney, Universal, Fox, Paramount, Columbia, MGM and Warner Brothers - put up $150,000 to make sure the president watched their wares in an environment as cosseted as the screening room of an entertainment mogul."
One has to wonder, if the print that the president is getting will be keeping me from getting the one I need to show. Perhaps calling the "El Presidente" will get me preferential treatment! (I was going to go with "The Presidential" for the purposes of this post, but I decided I liked the sound of "El Presidente" better because they used to call me that back in my frat boy days -- due to my position and heritage. We were so clever)

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Inherent Benefits of the Open Air Tent Combo

I was just thinking, while driving to work this morning, is that there is a fantastic and elegant efficiency to running an outdoor theater by night and tenting the place up when it's bright outside. For those keeping score, the form factor I want to apply to the theater I hope to open in Hawaii will be outdoor/open air place where the tropical breeze will be a constant reminder that not only are you watchig a fantastic movie, but you're watching it _in HAWAII_. (ala Maui Film Festival )

The problem with this setup, of course, is similar to that of a drive in. You can only show movies during the darkened night time hours. One thing that clicked with me while reading the Moxie blog (much much more on this incomparable page soon) is that movies at night are much much more popular than the daytime shows anyway. The solution I was originally thinking of was putting the whole thing under a tent (and somehow making it possible for the wind to still blow through to remind you of where you were) . The beauty of this -- that I only now realize -- is that for all practical purposes, it'll be easier and far less hassle to put up a smaller tent than a bigger one. And a smaller tent means a smaller room to manage and easier to focus on providing comfort and optimized experience for the few people who do attend the early movies. And when nighttime rolls around and the showings start to get more popular, the tent comes down and spreading out becomes possible.

It's so tantalizingly efficient. I love it!

The tent sort of set up, in any event, allows for lots of flexibility with the early movie/earlier use of the venue. At Wailea for the Maui Film Festival, it's a golf course. For us we could put in tables so people could watch while eating pastries from Martha's cafe or diaper changing stations for the ever popular mommy series for theaters. I'm sold. And I'm sure there won't be any problems getting it to pass city ordinances or selling the setup to distributors

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Dinner and a Movie Joints

Dinner and a movie Cinema pubs offer meals, drinks and films
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"Now, they're getting more popular, and many are showing newer films. As of 1997, just 14 first-run theaters in the country served alcohol.

Today, the figure is up to 270, said Kozak, whose organization counts among its members the owners of more than 29,000 of the roughly 36,000 to 37,000 screens in the nation."
An interesting point of comparison for all those thinking about opening up restaurant movie theater combos.

Even more interesting is this bit of distribution leverage.
"The earliest first-run cinema pubs tended to be outside major cities, in part because distributors wouldn't include theaters that served alcohol in initial film releases if they had competition. That's been changing, Kozak said. But in New England, most cinema pubs are located outside urban centers."
And while they say that this is changing, perhaps this could be an in for someone who wanted to say operate a theater on a pacific island :)

Could Home Theater (equipment) be the next generation of Commercial Theater (Equipment)?

Entertainment fans build movie theaters in their homes
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"'If you go to any commercial theater and then you go to a properly done, professionally installed home theater, the home theater will absolutely blow away the commercial theater,' Rivera said."
Since I started researching speakers and home theaters in high school, this is always something that my instinct said was true. And since I first thought of operating a theater, this is an idea that I wanted to incorporate. At the time it was about providing smaller home theater installations in the multiplex that would double as show rooms for home theater vendors. But now it might just be a more affordable way to bring the highest fi-est experience to moviegoers.

The two big things it highlights are:
- While home theaters are not cheap, they're cheaper than building a multiplex
- You always get more bang for your buck out of sound.

Combine this with being strategic about screen sizes that accomplish immersive experiences (see earlier post) and you have an inexpensive way to draw a crowd of audio/videophiles and add a careful selection of movies and you have a reason for the rest to come experience it.

No Loyalty in this Business

Article: R/C Theatres to sell 7 movie houses to chain
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"'There's not a large amount of loyalty in the movie theater business,' Phillips said. 'The product is such a big part of it that the operator is not a concern.'"
A little blip on the newswire, but with a bit of scary perspective.
"Most moviegoers choose a theater based on the movies it is showing or the quality of the building, he said. Ticket prices are determined by the market and usually are standard for a location."
While this is certainly true, I don't believe that their's no loyalty in the business. Just a misunderstanding of how loyalty works. I imagine that loyalty will come to those who deserve it. Providing the things theatergoers want, will earn their loyalty. Movies are a business and relationship just like any other. Product and operator are not that separate. It's just harder for the patron to see through to the operator (see my earlier post on transparency)

Why We Go to the Movies

Theaters: Despite the advent of TV and other competing technologies, Americans have continued their love affair with the cinema.
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"Why is it that we still go to the movies? Why do we bother now that we can sit at home in front of a huge television screen with booming sound coming out of speakers all around the room?"
It's a bit all over the page, but this article does a very nice job of answering the question posed above. Part history lesson, part insight into humananity this article covers the important facts that
- Movie Theaters will always have a place
- Hollywood will always progress when it's convinced that the advancements will be profitable and not surrender any of their old profitability (I especially liked this part about eating its young)
- Movies will always be relevant and a venue for human expression.

Emerging Pictures Digital Rollout

With Investment from Participant, Emerging Pictures Announces 12 City Digital Cinema Rollout for '05
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"Emerging Pictures, the digital cinema initiative being forged by Ira Deutchman, Giovanni Cozzi, and Barry Rebo has announced an investment from Participant Productions. As part of the partnership, Emerging will roll-out its Digital Cinema Network in 12 cities this year, offering an array of programming, including independent films and international films and other content, ranging from film festival programming, dramatic performances, and concerts."

This headline went from very exciting to deflating in the time it took me to get through the article. I was thinking that these guys were after what I was after. Leveraging the flexibility of digital cinema to strike meaningful deals with distributors and get the film product to more places in superior quality while giving the digital exhibition a little jumpstart.

But these guys appear to be small fries. They're going the ultra-conservative route with non-commercial venue installations and proprietary content deals. Not trying to go head to head with traditional theaters and distribution deals. My guess is that this effort will fade into the background and not do much for digital cinema at all. But who knows, maybe they have something bigger planned.

Their staff seems to be fairly accomplished, so either these guys aren't as smart as their resumes claim or they don't have their heart in the effort. They seem to be big enough guns to challenge the big players in the industry to reinvent their distribution and leverage their power for good, but they seem to be settling for building their own content network instead of going after the whole pie.

What they do is still cool Still providing free equipment and installations for people who _have_ venues in "underserved" areas. I hope they find some way of making them useful to the populace and commercially viable.

They have movies on the internet?!

2 Websites Add Movie Ticket Sales
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I was initially going to comment on this aspect of the following article
"'There's no question it's got to be inhibited by the fact that you have to go to three places to be able to buy tickets for every theater in your neighborhood,' Card said."
which is actually a rather tired problem that neither partnership (Google's or Amazon's) seems to solve. The article, unfortunately, missed the point of Google's Movie offering which is not, primarily about partnering with an online ticketing venture, but about allowing people easy access to movies on the web. I have been interested in seeing Google do this for a while, but was never really sure how it work with so much rich information already on IMDB. The flexibility of the search and relationship to other web resources is going to be Google Movies' strength, and hopefully a healthy integration with IMDB will result (as with all Google search products).

However, I found this line of the article, the most interesting insight:
"But heading to the movies is often a last-minute decision, which means consumers are less likely to use the Web for buying movie tickets than they are to buy seats for sporting events or music concerts, Jupiter Research analyst David Card said. "
Sure these are only the words of a professional analyst, but they confirm what my intuition would have me believe. Based on my own moviegoing habits (which are dicated by the price and flexibility of movies) I do feel like most people go to the movies as a last minute decision. Now there is a question of whether this is a set property of theatergoing.

Is it good that people assume this flexibility? Should ticket marketing harness this more effectively? Or would the box office benefit from changing the way people think about movies, and make them less flexible? And does online ticketing have a role in this?

Something like the little theater "Studio Galande" that I just visited in Paris, shows a different movie at every time slot and forces people to the shows at the times they specify. And the people came. And it got me excited about my show. And it helped me narrow down some of the choice I had to make in deciding which film to watch without eliminating my _choice_ of movies.

In any event, I find that the "last minute" nature of movie going is one of its most defining and enigmatic features. I also believe that understanding it fully is the key to the social dynamic supports the emotional connection to the movies. It's behind everything from why online ticketing doesn't currently work to why Multiplexes succeed over single screen palaces.

Film Article |

Film Article |

"But with DVD sales of $15 billion in 2004 far surpassing U.S. box office receipts of $9.4 billion, more movie companies are rushing films through theaters and onto retail shelves to take advantage of the advertising and promotion that typically support a film's theatrical release."

More and more stories like these seem to be popping up and the market force behind them is revealed. I only hope that while studios start to think progressively at capturing an early dvd market that they don't do so at the expense of the box office by simply forgetting to use the dvds as a way to get people back in the theaters. The simplest solution to doing something like this will be to play the same set of trailers in the home video versions of dvds as they would in the theaters. And I'm sure studios won't be shy about putting those in their dvds.

Credit Cards go to the Movies

Loews Cineplex and American Express Announce New Partnership; Strategic Relationship Provides Benefits to American Express Cardmembers and Loews Moviegoers

Cinema Group Plans Co-Branded Card

I'm not exactly sure what is behind the sudden rush for theater chains to be aligned with a credit card, but both of the two largest entities in the industry have seen it necessary to do so. I'm guessing it'll be interesting to follow how the presence of each card in their business strategies will affect their continued advertising at the theaters. Or to follow what they end up providing in general.