While Hollywood delivers summer flops instead of money makers, i.e. Mission Impossible 3 and Poseidon, savvy people in the entertainment business seem to be moving ever closer to changing the way we go to the movies. Bram Cohen, the founder and inventor of the Bit Torrent application, which enables extremely fast downloads of large files, like movies, has been slowly establishing a relationship with some of the Hollywood studios over the past year; and last week it was announced l he had signed a deal with Warner Brothers studios to use his software, bit torrent, to distribute movies and TV shows. Warner is going to sell the movies and TV shows for about $1, under cutting ITunes price for similar downloads.
Bit Torrent has been used by P2P community for years and although it is legal to use the Bit Torrent application it has been widely used to download pirated movies, TV shows and videos.
Perhaps the real significance of this deal with Cohen and Bit Torrent, is that it will begin the process familiarizing more people with the software. Why is this significant? because the rumor is the next step will be the simultaneous release of movies in all formats. That would mean the simultaneous release on DVD, video on demand via cable and or direct TV, and via computer download. Many people say that is not the future for movies and that computer download in particular would not would not allow for viewing on your home TV. However Netflix has just applied for permission to make movie downloads available to it's customers in the future. So there must be something happening somewhere in Hollywood. As for the download aspect I'm sure there is an easy fix either by a Tivo type box or by a software application, after all why are all the big companies like Microsoft, Dell and Gateway focusing on home media PCs.
The press have been mentioning this from time to time but seem to think movie downloading is far off. I would disagree. The new release of King Kong has gone to DVD even earlier than most major movies before it. Which leads one to ask why delay simultaneous release any longer?
The short answer is movie theatres, or I should say the multiplexes that are out there. They still benefit form getting the first crack at the audience and are fighting not to loose that revenue edge. But as Marc Cuban (What business are Theatres In?) and Mark Pesce ( Piracy is good? How Battlestar Galactica Killed Broadcast TV) have written in some recent articles. What business are the theaters really in? and will simultaneous releases really hurt them? or just cause the long over due evolution of the movie theatre business model.
There are two distinct forces that are at work in the world right now. Both are unstoppable and both will eventually change the movie theatre experience as we now know it. The first is the portable media device. The ipod , the cell phone, the blackberry, and other like devices that enable media to be portable and accessible anywhere anytime.
The second is the new culture of choice. What you want, when you want it ,and where and how you choose to consume it. This second concept may not be as clear as the first. It means instead of going to a multiplex in the Mall, with cell phones ringing and teenagers text messaging and gossiping, to see a movie, you might choose to go to a quiet small local cinema. One that caters to your neighborhood or your life style. One that offers matinees for stay at home Moms who can bring small children. One that perhaps has dinner included in a dinner theatre setting in the evening. One that bans cell phones and does not appeal to teens or tweens. Sound unlikely? you would be surprised. Marc Cuban has developed a whole new movie theatre model not unlike those that are springing up across the country. Here is one example:
In rural Connecticut this type of theatre experience is thriving. The small local cinema reborn and catering to two profitable demographic groups, the young family with small children wanting a family night or afternoon with family oriented movies and the older baby boomers seeking a night out with dinner included in their neighborhood. Smart entrepreneurs are developing this small specialized type of movie experience. The demand is there. This is just the next level of choice that is being offered. You can see a movie at home, you can see it at the Mall with your 15 year old friends, or you can see it at a quiet small local theatre with dinner or lunch and your small children. You are still consuming movies the choices are just more numerous and more diverse.
If you think simultaneous release is still far off again just look at what Dell, Gateway, Microsoft and other manufactures are focusing on. The home media center computer. One that does it all and integrates with your TV or home theatre set up. The application to download large media files , Bit Torrent, is already here and is being exposed to a wider audience. Now the application just has to be made easier for the general public to use. I should think that would not be too hard for a room full of engineers.
Skye Conroy works for websitedesignpartners.com, a small business help and resource web site that provides free information to small businesses who want to start marketing there business on the world wide web. Copyright webdesignpartners,inc.
Articles by Marc Cuban may be found at blogmaverik.com and by Mark Pesce at mindjack.com