FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Future of the Silver Screen

With Hollywood's recent initiative to silence movie-swapping services such as BitTorrent, speculation has renewed as to the future of movie theatres. This was a hot topic in the early days of television and, later, home video, which Hollywood initially saw as a threat but later embraced.

On the one hand, according to media blog Waxy.org, some people will always be willing to pay for the theatre experience. Theatres, also, have thrived by having exclusive rights to first-run films. But theatre attendance has been steadily declining, with three out of the top five chains going under by 2001. And what sets the Internet threat apart from TV and home video is its ability to deliver (or pirate) first-run material, making it a classic disruptive technology (acceptable quality + lower cost + added convenience).

The film industry needs to address this issue creatively; lawsuits may be a short-term fix but are not a permanent solution. At Waxy.org, commenters offer their solutions. Among them: enhance the theatre experience, lower ticket prices, and do what the music industry failed to do and embrace the Internet as a delivery mechanism before it's too late. Other grassroots initiatives, such as the Open Source Cinema project, could pose additional threats to Hollywood's business model.

Source: Waxy.org, unmediated