My take on the movie business.

The state of the movie industry, as far as I see it anyway.

There are loads of conversations about how the movie biz is no longer able to keep its head above water, and that all the studios are hemorrhaging funds as budgets continue to go up, while box office receipts continue to take a dive. Some say that they move industry is on its last legs, other say its a temporary lull in an otherwise vibrant part of the American (and global) entertainment marketplace.

I saw The Island this weekend, and had a GREAT time! I really liked the movie and felt my $4.50 for two tickets was well spent. What? Only $4.50 a ticket? That’s right. I took my wife to a 1:30 in the afternoon show to save a little money. That is part of the problem, isn’t it?

Let me break down what I predict is happening to the movie industry, and where it will all end up in the not-so-distant future.

It used to be that you could see a hot summer movie, and expect to see it a few times over if it was a really good one. It was also true that it would cost you about 5 bucks a person no matter what time you picked to see the thing. So lets get one thing out of the way: Movies cost FAR too much anymore and this has a direct and palpable impact on people and their Friday night decisions.

But back to the point. You would see a movie a few times over because you knew this was your only chance to get big screen, big sound, big experience. You also knew that you would not be able to see the movie again on VHS for another year or so, and even then, the small screen paled to what you got in the theater. Now skip ahead a few years, to the current DVD generation. We see a hot release in an actual theater, knowing that the tickets cost me nearly double what they used to, knowing that the parking sucks, the crowd is annoying, that there will be 10 comercials before I get to see previews, and I will pay 20 bucks for snacks. Why would I want to attend repeat viewings? There is no good answer.

Top this all off by the fact that you can count on a films DVD release in less than 3 months in most cases. Why see the movie 5 times over in the theater when I can see it in three months on my HDTV on my fat couch mere feet from the crapper? And a microwave full of $1.00 popcorn ain’t helping Hollowood out much either. The crowd is who I invite. The food is what I want to eat. And the price of rental is a measly 4 bucks, or better yet, for 13 or so dollars I can buy the whole things plus extras for as many repeat viewings as I can stand. I can pause for the phone, I can put the dog out, I can turn the sound up, and I can turn the lights down. I control EVERYTHING!

I also would argue that a specific set of movies has spoiled us, and until they are topped, the theater going experience will become more novelty and less typical. That trilogy would be Lord of the Rings. These films completely transfixed its audience, and even got away with repeat viewings from me in all three films. And they were somehow able to hold off a DVD release for nearly a year between movies. AND for three years I had a great movie I could count on being there, and swallowing up my theater going coin. Until something else beats that trilogy in terms of raw entertainment, craftsmanship, and shear beauty, chances are I will end up passing till it hits the Walmart DVD shelf.

But that’s really beside the point. The point is that the industry will continue to follow a very familiar pattern to most gamers out there. It used to be in the old days the only way you got your video game fix was to drive to an arcade, throw your coins into a slot, and play till your last man breathed his last breath. Think of the early Atari era as the VHS era in film. Pretty good stuff but not on par with what was in the arcades. The same is true of film when tape was hip.

Jump to the year 1984, and Nintendo’s launch of the NES. Suddenly here was a machine that challenged the quality and the experience of playing games in an arcade, and the entire arcade world takes a giant smelly dump as home video game consoles stole their domain, and thunder. This effect is still true today. Arcades are now the novelty, not the main source of electronic video entertainment. I think the traditional movie going experience is headed towards the same end. Lots and lots of theaters will close down, and going to see films will quickly become something you do once in a blue moon. I am even willing to bet that major Hollywood releases will start coming strait to DVD and whatever comes after DVD. It will make more sense for the studios, as this will be where their money is made in the long run anyway. Its already true.

Anyway, just a few thoughts from me. You guys have an opinion?