According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, several of the major studios are testing the idea of offering home streaming of movies just after their theatrical opening. Does this spell the beginning of the end of the theatrical first model that has been used by Hollywood for almost to a century? Read more for free here and for pay here.
Right now they are just experimenting with it in South Korea. And it is unlikely that anytime soon it will become the dominant manner with which movies are “rolled out” in America. Or even if it will be explored all that much as the major theatrical chains, who stand the most to lose, insist on a window of at least 90-days before the movie is available elsewhere. This means that a movie cannot first be seen anywhere other than a theater for the first ninety days.
Of course the concern of the American theater chains, is that people will opt to see the movie on their home streaming device rather than in the comfort (?) of the local movie theater.
Remember, it’s all always about the bottom line. And those of us who like to talk about the art of cinema, need to remember that the big draw to movies in the 1920s (!!) and long, long after, was NOT the films, per se, but simply that the local movie theater was the only place in town with air-conditioning.
So while Hollywood was selling glamour and fantasy, it was really selling popcorn and the cold air.
Where this dual theatrical/streaming model may have enormous impact is in the arena of independent cinema, allowing independent filmmakers a way to maximize on their return in the way indie bands have used iTunes. But more on that and thoughts about future distribution models in upcoming blogs.
In the mean time, stay cool and go to the movies. It’s Air Conditioned!