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Why Movies Are Not Exactly Like Music 378

Posted by kdawson
from the not-going-gently dept.
Ars digs into the proposition that movies will go the way of the music business, and finds some reasons not to be totally gloomy about Hollywood's immediate future. For one thing, the movie biz managed to introduce a next-generation format to follow the DVD, a trick that eluded the music crowd (anyone remember DVD-Audio? SACD?). Blu-ray isn't making up the gap as DVD sales fall, but it is slowing the revenue decline. Perhaps the most important difference from the music business is that movies aren't amenable to "disaggregation" — unlike CDs, which people stopped buying once they could get the individual songs they really wanted. Ars concludes: "The movie business is facing many of the same challenges that are bedeviling music, but it's not about to go quietly into that good night — and it may not have to."
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Why Movies Are Not Exactly Like Music

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  • DVD Sales Gap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [werdnaredne]> on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:00AM (#30323748) Homepage Journal

    DVDs sales are going down, but some of that gap is Amazon Unbox, Netflix, iTunes, DVRs, Hulu, etc.

    The movie industry gets paid from all of these sources (including DVRs in that movie companies are paid to air movies on cable).

    BluRay sales aren't huge because some retailers keep insisting on charging $35 for BluRay movies. We all know the cost of the disc is minimal. Amazon can sell BluRays for $10-$20. I'm not going to pay $35 for a movie, and I'm not alone on that issue.

    • Re:DVD Sales Gap (Score:5, Interesting)

      by chadplusplus (1432889) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:17AM (#30323960)
      And let's not forget the instant gratification demanded by many consumers. On typical broadband, a song downloads in less than a minute. The significantly longer time required to download a movie (if purchased and stored in Blue Ray quality) is longer than the time required to drive to Blockbuster or Walmart to buy the physical copy of the same movie.

      For instance, a few months ago, I ordered PPV Gran Torino in 1080p for my wife and I to view one evening. Six hours later it was ready to view, but she was already in bed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Swizec (978239)
        It takes an hour to download a 720p movie. You don't usually _need_ a 1080p movie. And more importantly, with the technological marvel that is streaming you can start watching after 15 minutes (unless you're downloading .mkv or something) and the playtime will not catch up to the download time.

        But then again, some people don't have FTTH like most of us in developed countries do. :)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by clone53421 (1310749)

          Pretty sure that as long as you’re downloading the head end of the file and not arbitrary bits from the middle, VLC would play the uncompleted file just fine and would continue to play until it either caught up with the download or until the movie ended.

          • Re:DVD Sales Gap (Score:4, Informative)

            by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:00PM (#30324494) Homepage

            I believe that for some formats, the player needs to peek at the start and end of the file, before chewing through from the start.

            Hence, many Bittorrent implementations prioritise the start and end of the file.

            For as-good-as-streaming, of course you can fetch the beginning, fetch the end, then fetch the rest beginning at the front.

            If everyone does that it kills torrent swarm performance as a whole, but hey, we're not advocating P2P here, right ;)

        • Re:DVD Sales Gap (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Evil Shabazz (937088) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:37AM (#30324208)

          It takes an hour to download a 720p movie. You don't usually _need_ a 1080p movie. And more importantly, with the technological marvel that is streaming you can start watching after 15 minutes (unless you're downloading .mkv or something) and the playtime will not catch up to the download time. But then again, some people don't have FTTH like most of us in developed countries do. :)

          It only takes an hour to download a 720p movie if you happen to have access to about 7mb+ broadband. And even then, you're subject also to the bandwidth of the service you're trying to download from. For instance, take trying to download a movie from Sony's PS3 store. You'll only ever make that mistake once. You could have a 10 petabyte internet connection and it would still take you 16 hours to download a TV episode from them because they won't send you the file at anywhere near a reasonable speed.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Chris Mattern (191822)

            For instance, take trying to download a movie from Sony's PS3 store. You'll only ever make that mistake once. You could have a 10 petabyte internet connection and it would still take you 16 hours to download a TV episode from them because they won't send you the file at anywhere near a reasonable speed.

            You must have a different PS3 store than the one I use. Mine gets me a 30 minute TV episode in about 10 minutes, max. And I can start watching it as soon as I start downloading it. Very nice.

        • You don't NEED a 720p movie either. Way to apologize for a shit technology.

          • by Swizec (978239)
            When you've got FTTH at home you get used to certain levels of image quality ...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            People use need to mean want. I don't know where the cutoff is for 720p vs. 1080p, but I know that above roughly the 40" mark (higher for DLP sets that have a bit of blur to them) the blockiness of 480p becomes very noticeable. I chose a 40" 720p set a couple years ago for precisely that reason; I see no need for BluRay, and I'd rather my less graphically capable systems (e.g. the Wii) don't look completely horrible. I expect around 60"-70" or so 1080p becomes "necessary" in the same way; if you go with a
        • I was at a friends house recently and watched leatherheads on iTunes or iMovie or whatever apple sells movies as. He has an excellent TV., so the issue wasn't there. I don't know why, but it looked like 1930's quality framerates. Image quality was good, but on some scenes with more motion, it looked like it was skipping about 3 out of every 4 frames. It was very jerky and totally unacceptable to me. My friend didn't seem to notice. Somewhere during the movie, I'd mentioned you can record ATSC broadcasts and

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Gotta disagree. Songs have gone from 1400 kbit/s CD songs to 128 kbit/s AAC songs.

        If movies underwent a similar downgrade in quality, instead of ~5 Mbit/s DVD movies you would have 0.45 Mbit/s streaming videos that people could watch in realtime on their computers, televisions, or iPods. We are now seeing that transition where people download their favorite shows or movies rather than drive to Walmart and buy the media.

        It had nothing to do with Hollywood or Bluray, but because until recently people didn't

        • Re:DVD Sales Gap (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:49AM (#30324336) Journal
          To be fair, CDs are only 1400 kbit/s because they were designed to be played back on hardware with almost zero processing power. Depending on the source material, it isn't uncommon to see lossless compression get this down to around half the original size. Still a far cry from the bitrates of the lossy stuff; but less dramatic than the uncompressed/lossy compression comparison.
          • Not to mention that the .WAV files on a CD contain audio not detectable by the human ear. MP3s are lossy formats, but most of what is lost the human ear can't hear.

    • DVDs sales are going down, but some of that gap is Amazon Unbox, Netflix, iTunes, DVRs, Hulu, etc.

      ...

      BluRay sales aren't huge because some retailers keep insisting on charging $35 for BluRay movies. We all know the cost of the disc is minimal. Amazon can sell BluRays for $10-$20. I'm not going to pay $35 for a movie, and I'm not alone on that issue.

      It'll be along time until a buy a Blu-Ray player if ever. More likely, I'll have a DVD-compatible drive in a computer dedicated to a home theater with a projector when my DVD player dies. I have zero interest in Blu-Ray except as a storage medium for backups. DVD is more than good enough. (I also have zero interest in buying an LCD or Plasma TV; HDTV, etc.) My TV is pretty much for watching my DVDs and playing the Wii; and watching a couple over-the-air TV shows, when the DTV signal is good enough. (Analog

  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:01AM (#30323756) Journal
    Uh -- because movies have pictures?
  • by jrq (119773) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:01AM (#30323766)
    On the other hand, it does have one tremendous weakness that doesn't afflict music: consumers often watch films only once.
    Really, if anyone should be working on a system to enable on-demand viewing of their intellectual property it should be the movie industry.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NoYob (1630681)
      I guess they never heard of "The Usual Suspects" [imdb.com]parties. Those guys watch that movie over and over just to hear Kevin Spacey say, "I killed him." under his breath.( I never heard it.)
    • True. Like many people I rarely buy movies. I just check netflix, then Hulu, then TPB.
    • Really, if anyone should be working on a system to enable on-demand viewing of their intellectual property it should be the movie industry.

      Agreed, If they would have invest a bit of their returns about 15years ago they might have already had a content delivery system that everyone would use. Instead they either paid back investors, spend money to put new movies, or had nice parties. Why is it so hard for companies to understand that a R&D can be a major benefit even if you only put a little funding into it. When they Did put money into such products they ended up doing something stupid like CCS which is breakable in a heart beat instead of

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        movie coompany? pay back investors? hahahaha. Even the worlds biggest blockbusters with hundreds of millions of ticket sales and tens of millions of dvds sold will never make a profit sufficient to repay investors or writers. Its called hollywood accounting.

    • by tepples (727027)

      if anyone should be working on a system to enable on-demand viewing of their intellectual property it should be the movie industry.

      They haven't? Then how can Comcast advertise movie rentals over digital cable on the same day as the DVD release?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Correction: consumers only watch bad movies once. How many times have you watched Star Wars?

  • Obvious difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spitzak (4019) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:02AM (#30323770) Homepage

    An obvious difference is that people are interested in seeing a movie exactly once, and as soon as possible.

    Music relies on people wanting to hear it multiple times and they are probably more interested in the music well after it exists. And complete knowledge of the contents of the music increases, rather than decreases, their desire to hear it.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      First time I really miss not having some mod points.

      Insightfullify that post please.

    • people are interested in seeing a movie exactly once, and as soon as possible.

      That might apply to PG-13 and R rated movies, but not to the Disney animated canon. People buy Disney DVDs[1] to use them as electronic babysitters for their single-digit-year-old children.

      [1] I'm not talking about Kill Bill here.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        I suppose little kids wouldn't appreciate Tarantino's style of dialog but that shouldn't stop them from enjoying the film.

        I grew up watching Terminator, Rambo, Conan, Predator and their like. No harm done there. Kill Bill would probably be better for them in the long run compared what passes for kid shows these days.

      • And people who do that are generally pretty bad parents, I might add. I'm not completely anti-media for our sprog, but media-viewing needs to be something they then communicate about, that they do intelligently, etc. I understand the need to occasionally placate a rampaging toddler with singing sparkly, but I'm convinced that it's gone much too far in the last couple decades.

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:52AM (#30324368)

      An obvious difference is that people are interested in seeing a movie exactly once, and as soon as possible.

      Music relies on people wanting to hear it multiple times and they are probably more interested in the music well after it exists. And complete knowledge of the contents of the music increases, rather than decreases, their desire to hear it.

      Incorrect.

      Completely wrong.

      So wrong it makes me wonder where on Earth you came up with this idea.

      In a lot of ways, a movie is like a novel. There are some you read through once, and then get rid of because they just aren't that amazing. There are some you have to re-read several times simply to understand them. And then there are the favorites that you keep coming back to year after year.

      To claim that everyone is only interested in seeing a movie once, and that they're all basically disposable, is simply ignorant.

      Sure, if you're talking about some generic action/horror movie aimed at teenfolk that's probably accurate. They're just looking for something to serve as background noise while they hang out with their friends. They'll go see it within days of the opening, they'll see it once, and they won't even pay much attention to it.

      But then you've got the G/PG stuff aimed at little kids. You've obviously never witnessed a small child and their favorite movie. They'll drag you to the theater a dozen times while it is showing... They'll make you buy every single solitary piece of merchandise tied into the film... They'll need the DVD the day it becomes available... And they'll watch it over and over again, until the disc literally wears out.

      Then you've got movies with some real substance to them. Things like Pulp Fiction [imdb.com]. Movies where you literally notice something new each time you watch it. Movies that take multiple viewings to actually understand what is going on.

      Then there are the quality movies that just don't get old. This will, of course, vary quite a bit depending on your personal preferences... But I don't know how many times I've watched Alien [imdb.com] or Evil Dead II [imdb.com] or Cannibal: The Musical [imdb.com].

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:07PM (#30324592)

        could it be...

        that you're BOTH RIGHT?

        ie, you've just demonstrated that each person has their own take on what form of entertainment works for them and makes them happy.

        there IS no one-stop style that fits all.

        some movies: watch once. others, watch many
        some songs: listen once. others, listen many

        people are different. wow. what a revelation.

  • Gaming, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Icegryphon (715550) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:02AM (#30323774)
    Do they get into the fact the people are wasting there time and entertainment budgets on gaming?
    Can't go see a movie when you are busy playing CoD:MW2 or Tekken 6 or etc.
    Also at 60$ a Crack you might be hurting for expendable cash.
    • Re:Gaming, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mr. DOS (1276020) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:14AM (#30323928)

      Let's work something out: a $60 game will get you what, hopefully 10+ hours of playtime? (Sidenote: oh how I long for days gone by when that would've been considered short...) That's less than $6/hour. Blu-ray discs are about $20; given a movie length of about 2 hours, that's around $10/hour - almost twice as expensive. On top of that, some multiplayer games

            --- Mr. DOS

      • Smart people only spend $20 on a game. So that's about $1-2 per hour of game. Very cheap.

        BTW: I too like short games. Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube was criticized for "only" being ten hours, but I thought that was the perfect length for the dark story it told. If it had been longer I would have lost interest (as happened with Zelda Wind Waker), and labeled it "stretched" or "padded"

      • Re:Gaming, (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:06PM (#30324576)

        Let's work something out: a $60 game will get you what, hopefully 10+ hours of playtime? (Sidenote: oh how I long for days gone by when that would've been considered short...) That's less than $6/hour. Blu-ray discs are about $20; given a movie length of about 2 hours, that's around $10/hour - almost twice as expensive.

        Exactly.

        It is really hard to justify going to the movies these days. Our local theater charges roughly $12/ticket... So that's $24 for the wife and I. For roughly two hours of entertainment. And more often than not it really doesn't feel like we're getting our money's worth... Either the movie will be mediocre (if not completely disappointing) or the other patrons will be distracting or whatever.

        Instead, we can wait a few months until it comes out on DVD and pick it up at Blockbuster for $5 or so... Or at a Redbox machine for $1... Or grab it on Pay-Per-View for $7... Or wait for Netflix to send it out... All of which dramatically lower the price and dramatically increase the chances of us enjoying ourselves (no annoying folks in the theater, etc.)

        Or I can spend my money on a game instead... We used to have a couple WoW accounts going. $30 a month, for the two of us, for basically unlimited entertainment. Much cheaper than going to the movies or renting or anything else.

      • On top of that, some multiplayer games

        --- Mr. DOS

        I was never aware that DOS concatenated /. reply strings to 377 characters.

    • by kalirion (728907)

      Apples and oranges. You might as well say that ice cream sales are faltering because more people are buying burgers. A $10 bargain bin or budget game might give me 30 hours of entertainment, while a $10 movie might give me 2 hours, but its different type of entertainment so I'm not going to be choosing between them. So I'd end up watching 1 move and buying 1 game, instead of buying 2 games or watching 2 movies.

      • Nothing like Ice cream or Burgers,
        They may be different but,
        you can still file them under an entertainment category.
      • Apples and oranges. You might as well say that ice cream sales are faltering because more people are buying burgers. A $10 bargain bin or budget game might give me 30 hours of entertainment, while a $10 movie might give me 2 hours, but its different type of entertainment so I'm not going to be choosing between them. So I'd end up watching 1 move and buying 1 game, instead of buying 2 games or watching 2 movies.

        Actually, I think it is a fair comparison...

        At the end of the day/week, when everything is done, I've got some disposable income and some leisure time - both of which are fixed.

        I can choose to spend $20+ to go to the movies with my wife, which will keep us entertained for roughly two hours... Or I can spend $5 to rent a movie and be entertained for roughly the same amount of time... Or I can spend $50 on some game and be entertained for 20 hours or so.

        Sure, occasionally there's a movie that looks especial

    • Do they get into the fact the people are wasting there time and entertainment budgets on gaming?

      Can't go see a movie when you are busy playing CoD:MW2 or Tekken 6 or etc.

      Also at 60$ a Crack you might be hurting for expendable cash.

      Different demographics for film than for gaming. Hmmn, this is good, really: if the otherwise-low-attention-span explosion-loving young-adult male demo drops out of the film market equation, then the rest of the population becomes the dominant market - which may explain why more indie films are getting produced each year.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:03AM (#30323784)

    Perhaps the most important difference from the music business is that movies aren't amenable to "disaggregation" -- unlike CDs, which people stopped buying once they could get the individual songs they really wanted.

    I stopped watching movies a few years ago, now all I watch are the trailers. They are free, you get 80% of the story, and it is always the best parts too. What's not to love?

  • Gloomy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:07AM (#30323836)

    not to be totally gloomy about Hollywood's immediate future

    Why would I even care? Seriously. I like movies, but if the big centralized studios vanished and we just had independent filmmakers left I don't think I'd shed any tears. I might actually welcome that just to see what happens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ...if the big centralized studios vanished and we just had independent filmmakers left I don't think I'd shed any tears.

      You say that now, but how are you going to feel when there are no big studios left to greenlight "Cheaper by the Dozen 3"?

      • Re:Gloomy? (Score:4, Funny)

        by snspdaarf (1314399) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:24AM (#30324026)

        ...if the big centralized studios vanished and we just had independent filmmakers left I don't think I'd shed any tears.

        You say that now, but how are you going to feel when there are no big studios left to greenlight "Cheaper by the Dozen 3"?

        Ecstatic?

      • by tepples (727027) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {selppet}> on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:38AM (#30324226) Homepage Journal

        how are you going to feel when there are no big studios left to greenlight "Cheaper by the Dozen 3"?

        If Twentieth Century Fox dramatically scales back its operations, then the Gilbreths [wikipedia.org] are going to have to shop their works to smaller studios, including those that use the medium of SWF serials rather than traditional feature films. But these studios will have to compete with reality TV: see Jon and Kate Plus 8 or 18 Kids and Counting or Table for 12 or the new series starring Nadya Suleman and her kids.

    • I agree mostly, but I think that big studios still have a purpose. I enjoy independent films, but there are also certain types of films that cannot easily be completed by a smaller studio. I.e., films with cutting-edge CGI or larger scale. In order to sell a film to millions they make it inoffensive which often means boring. Or they get a big name actor. Or they load it up with CGI. Then they end up with a movie that's interesting in a "Mind's Eye" type of way, but forgettable otherwise.

      The other reason

    • Indeed. By far the best movie I've seen this year is District 9 [imdb.com], and the closest a big centralised studio came to that was TriStar getting distribution rights i.e. No input on the film at all. Essentially, the guy who made this [youtube.com] and this [youtube.com] was offered $30m by Peter Jackson to do whatever he wanted after the Halo movie fell through.

      I suggest you watch it.
      • Essentially, the guy who made was offered $30m by Peter Jackson to do whatever he wanted after the Halo movie fell through.

        How did Peter Jackson get that $30 million though? Successful LoTR movies.

  • PSN's video store (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:07AM (#30323840) Homepage

    I was horrified when I saw some of the prices on the PSN video store. £2.50 to rent Zoolander. In the UK, that film is on TV every other weekend and then DVD is probably onto £3.99. There's no way I'd rent that, much less fork out the £6.99 for the SD version.

    That said, with proper 3D movies coming into play, I'm quite willing to still go to the cinema, sure I find the price quite high but if you haven't seen a 3D film yet I urge you to go and see one, it's very rare that I'm impressed with technology but this is something else.

    Movies are definitely not like music, except it would be nice if you could download your favourite single episode of Family Guy, The Simpsons or The Big Bang Theory instead of having to fork for the box set (or can you already do this).

    • by mblase (200735)

      That said, with proper 3D movies coming into play, I'm quite willing to still go to the cinema, sure I find the price quite high but if you haven't seen a 3D film yet I urge you to go and see one, it's very rare that I'm impressed with technology but this is something else.

      Disclaimer: chose your directors carefully. Disney/Pixar has been relatively subdued with the 3D so far, only really pushing it when it adds punch to their animated action scenes. Anything by Zemekis uses 3D to excess in every other scene, and it made my eyes hurt badly to watch "Beowulf" that way.

    • When I saw The Lost World in 3D two years ago, it gave me a headache. The glasses distorted the image in an unpleasant, disorienting fashion. I decided I would never go see another 3D movie just because it was 3D.

  • by Mr. DOS (1276020) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:08AM (#30323848)

    The summary seems to suggest that audio needs a new physical format. Why? It's not like the so-called "musicians" of today want to make longer records (for which more storage would be necessary), and it's not like consumers want higher-quality audio, either - it's been repeatedly (although I wouldn't say conclusively) shown that most consumers can hear no problems with 128Kbps MP3's, and that they're perfectly happy with said bottom-of-the-barrel quality. CD's aren't great, but it's not as anybody's starving for something better (as opposed to video, where people seem to want constantly higher and higher resolution). Also - and I hate to say this, but - it seems as if the music industry is starting to "get" digital distribution which further negates the need for a new format (as opposed to the movie industry, who still totally less-than-three's physical distribution).

          --- Mr. DOS

    • Actually audio did get a new format, MP3. Losing the physical media was the best thing to happen to music. CD adoption was huge not just because it sounded better than tapes (casette tapes overtook 8-tracks despite having arguably inferior sound) but because they were conveinent.

      No rewinding the tape. No searching for a song. People loved how easy it was to listen to music.

      Digital music further seperated individual songs from albums, and made it easier to listen to your music on different devices wherever y

    • The summary seems to suggest that audio needs a new physical format.

      You mean something other than a load of MP3s on a microSD card [slotmusic.org]?

    • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:05PM (#30324572) Homepage

      Funny how this is another difference between film and music. Popular music audiences don't really care about resolution or sound-quality - they generally want familiarity, reassurance, a sense that they're having fun and fitting in. (Adorno was right about this 70 years ago.) But when they see a film - and really, we're talking about the same people - they do what high visual resolution, excellent camera work (as they understand it), etc. Now, they may have really poor discrimination for quality in script-writing, in narratives, even in the finer aspects of cinematography - they may even be as entirely committed to cliches in film as they are in music - but they do respond positively to higher quality in the delivery medium.

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:12AM (#30323892)

    1. Forget chasing 'pirates'. This will save a lot of expensive legal bills. Cut back drastically on advertising too, as you don't need to whip people up into a frenzy to get them to theatres in the first week.

    2. Make film (Citizen Kane2, The Reckoning: starring Adam Sandler or something).

    3. Make a VCD cut and make unlabelled cheapo vcd's. Using the economies of scale, sell these so cheap that the guys selling pirate vcd will buy from you rather than burn their own copies. Your margin is the difference between a bulk pressed cd and a small scale burned copy.

    4. Simultaneously sell the film as a download for the same price as you get for the vcd. ...wait a few weeks

    5. Make a nicer, longer dvd cut of the film and, again, sell these so cheap that the guys selling pirate dvd will buy from you rather than burn their own copies.

    6. Sell the dvd cut of the film online at the same price as the DVD wholesale price. .... wait some more

    7. Theatre release of film in lovely THX/35mm

    8. Dvd/Bluray boxed sets with extra everything.
    9. Laugh all the way to the bank (which then gambles half your money away and pays the other half to its CEO).

    • Some of what you suggest is already happening.

      Over the last couple of years we have started to see day-and-date releases of movies in Russia, India, China, etc (region 5 plus some other specific countries) with barebones DVDs that are a lot cheaper than tstandard releases. Sometimes they are english-unfriendly - only carrying a dub audiotrack for the local language - but not always. These R5 discs are still more expensive than the bootleg copies, but maybe only 50% more expensive instead of %500.

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:22PM (#30324814)

      It seems to me that this plan would be reliant on people actually wanting to watch the new releases after having seen the previous ones. You seem to assume that after watching the low-quality VCD, folks would want to watch the DVD... And after watching the DVD, they'd want to see the theatrical release and buy the boxed set.

      The problem with this, of course, is that a lot of movies just aren't that good.

      I could easily see this working for something like Kill Bill [imdb.com] or Ghost Busters [imdb.com]...

      But I'm not certain that it would work for the majority of movies out there. I mean, I enjoyed The Hangover [imdb.com]... But, having watched it on VCD or DVD, I really don't think I'd feel the need to see it in the theater. And I certainly wouldn't buy the boxed set. And that was a pretty fun movie.

      Sure, if the popularity for the VCD is low you don't have to make a crapton of DVDs... And if the DVDs don't move you can just skip the theatrical release... But it seems to me that most of the money goes into producing the film itself - not duplicating it in various mediums. The money goes to paying actors, and lighting guys, and directors, and writers, and whoever else... Not to buying blank discs and celluloid.

      So I'm really not certain you'd wind up making enough money to break even. I really think that with most of the crap coming out of Hollywood these days, most people would be content with a VCD or DVD. I don't think you'd really see all that many people showing up in the theater or buying the boxed set.

      • by rcastro0 (241450) on Friday December 04, 2009 @12:51PM (#30325250) Homepage

        > It seems to me that this plan would be reliant on people actually wanting to watch the new releases after having seen the previous ones.

        No, I don't think you got the point. The point is that this plan would be reliant on people actually wanting to wait to watch the new release in their most preferred format.

        I propose the following:
        (1) People have only one chance to have a first impression of a movie.
        (2) They can chose what that first impression is.
        (3) They will chose the one that best satisfies them, within their cost/convenience/quality/social mix (for the occasion).

        Therefore, they will pass the chance to watch a movie in a format that robs them the full experience it can give. You know what I am talking about. Any /. reader knows very well how to DL a free copy of a movie, right now, at this moment. He/she can pick between a quick download that will be trasfered to (an can be watched on) their cellphone screen. Or they can get the PSP version. Or the VCD version. Or the DVD version. Or the HD version. Yet... how many /.ers have stopped going to movie theaters because of that?

        Myself, I don't have time to watch every movie. And the limited time I have, I will use to watch the best movies in the grandest way (at a movie theater, or at least in HD). I will not be wasting time with bad movies, nor wasting great movies with a tiny screen...

  • Duh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chill (34294)

    I've argued this for years. CDs and their predecessors are collections of individual performances, with a few exceptions. The music industry has made an entire business model on selling an expensive set based on the saleability of a single unit. That is, they sell albums based on people wanting just one or two songs.

    Movies are not like that. As much as people like to joke that much coming out of Hollywood has 5 minutes of entertainment lost in 2+ hours of bad acting, poor dialog and non-existent plot, n

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slim (1652)

      CDs and their predecessors are collections of individual performances, with a few exceptions.

      You've just broken the heart of every artist that's ever agonised over the running order of their album.

      Good music can be produced for next to nothing, whereas it is much more difficult to do that with movies. A song or album can be credibly done by an INDIVIDUAL, or maybe a band and a few extra people to produce. Ten people, tops, unless they're padding it.

      I agree up to a point, and I happen to prefer, on the whole, cheaply recorded music.

      But consider that lots of people like the expensive stuff. The mainstream superstars spend millions on studio time with extremely high end equipment, studios with expensively built acoustics, engineers and mic technicians and session musicians who charge professional rates. How much do think it costs to hire a 40 piece orc

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by chill (34294)

        Well, the "shuffle" feature on CD players introduced back in the 80s broke their hearts first. I'm just pointing it out. :-)

        And while they are exceptions, not many albums are produced with 40-piece orchestras.

        I've seen more than a few musicians (a couple, personal friends) who have built acoustically engineered sound rooms in their homes. And computers can replace 99% of the expensive equipment, other than instruments. Heck. Most of that expensive audio equipment is nothing more than specialized compute

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      A song or album can be credibly done by an INDIVIDUAL

      There are a couple problems with writing, recording, and self-publishing your own album:

      • How do you promote it? The major labels have a lock on MTV, FM radio, and XM radio, the traditional ways to discover popular music.
      • How do you distribute it to people who don't have high-speed Internet access? The major labels have a lock on Walmart* and Best Buy, and some genres (such as country music) would appear to be more popular among people who live in areas where dial-up is the fastest (miles from the closest DS
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      That is, they sell albums based on people wanting just one or two songs.

      The recording industry was singles-based for most of its history. A 78 held only one song per side. A 45 only held one song per side*. It was 1948 before the twelve inch album was premiered.

      Beginning in 1939, Dr. Peter Goldmark and his staff at Columbia Records undertook efforts to address problems of recording and playing back narrow grooves and developing an inexpensive, reliable consumer playback system. In 1948, the 12-inch (30 cm)

  • by plastbox (1577037) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:14AM (#30323920) Homepage

    Also, one pretty significant difference between the two is the cost of production. Terminator 2 cost about $90 million and is 137 minutes long. That's $647.482 per minute. A typical album might contain an hour of music or so and can (despite what the MPAA wants you to believe) be produced for next-to-nothing*.

    Of course, I am not taking into account all the last millennium issues with distribution and publicity. I'm talking about the costs of actually making a movie or album

    *By "next-to-nothing" I mean that cost of time in a studio and a good mixer/sound technician is low enough that even unknown, new bands can pool their money and pay to have an album recorded quite easily.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MadKeithV (102058)
      That's a nonsense argument. Movies can be made for next to nothing as well with a handheld camcorder. See "Blair Witch Project" and the like. Sure, those are lucky shots, but so are the bands that "make it" on a shoestring budget.

      The amount of gear and expertise required to make a decent album with half a chance of making any money at all is more than you'd think.

      Lots of bands are making cheap recordings, some of them are even good. But very, very few of them make any money off of it, let alone en
  • stale product (Score:3, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:25AM (#30324040) Homepage Journal
    The primary difference between movies and music is that movies are most often released to the retail chain as a stale product, i.e. they have already made most of the money they are going to make and are only released to make additional profits. OTOH, music has to make expenses and profits sold at this level.

    Another difference is that music is still produced as an 'album', with al the related expenses, but is now often sold as tracks. This means that some tracks probably are required to cover some of the expenses of other tracks. OTOH, movies as still sold as complete units, and are sometimes bundled with other units to generate additional profits, not cover basic expenses.

    The other difference is that music has been sold directly to masses for a few generations, so the incumbents has gotten used to this as the normal situation. OTOH, movies has only been sold to the masses at the retail level for a generation or two. Prior to the 80's, movies were sold to first run theaters, then a series of lower priced venues, then to TV. Even in the 80's, with VCRs, there was still an debate whether a movie should be 'priced to sell' or 'priced to rent'. It was not uncommon for a movie to be priced $50-$100.

    I do not see that bluray is going to be a big format. We have music players which changed the music industry, and we are not going to be told what we must have to watch a movie. I think the anti-piracy push of the industry shows they get this. They want to keep video cameras out of movie theaters, to protect the real profit centers. They want to stop free video streaming, so they can develop that profit center. An amazing number of movies and tv are available for streaming. This, of course is made possible by extremely tight DRM, another thing the music biz does not have, and something, I think, the video biz will have to give up in time.

  • I think that the disaggregation thing is the main key. I haven't bought a physical CD in about 18 months. In the past 4 years I've bought I think 3 of them - in those few cases the only reason was that it was a soundtrack (which I typically buy whole) and the purchase price was less than what the online album cost.

    Other than that, on any given album I usually only want 1 song - definitely no more than 4. Digital distribution lets me get only those songs that I want, enabling me to buy much more music.

    I t

  • The movie business is facing many of the same challenges that are bedeviling music, but it's not about to go quietly into that good night

    Music is going completely away? Wow. After several millenia of human musical composition I would have figured the art form had some staying power, but I guess it was a pretty good run after all. Though I must admit I was kind of looking forward to the idea of hearing new music in the future.

    oh well

  • Well, one big difference between music and movies is that I still occasionally hear new music I like.

    When was the last time a new movie came out that I was even mildly interested in seeing? Donnie Darko? How long ago was that??

    Hey! That's my lawn! Get off!! Pesky kids.
    • by slim (1652)

      When was the last time a new movie came out that I was even mildly interested in seeing? Donnie Darko? How long ago was that??

      Donnie Darko - 2001. Which means you haven't seen Primer - 2004. You need to fix that now.

  • Like the Music and News industries and countless other dead industries and even dinosaurs ,governments and religions before, the movie industry is not making the concessions necessary for its survival and is taking no pointers from the failures of others. Rationalizing to appease whatever future you wish for, rather than viewing the lessons of history makes for a pretty pathetic read. Wishing the best for todays failing industries is kind of like crapping in one hand and wishing in the other. Which hand wil

  • by sycodon (149926) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:39AM (#30324232)

    Music and movies are fundamentally different. Aside from the obvious visual aspect, they are much longer, require that you pay attention, and get worse with each viewing.

    How many people would put on Top Gun each morning when they get into work? How many people would actually pay attention to it after the fifth time that week? How many people wouldn't notice how cheesy the dialog and special affects are after subsequent viewings?

    I suspect that if you were put into a PET scanner, entirely different portions of the brain would light up when watching a movie vs. listen to music.

    So while music can be listened to over and over again with the same level of enjoyment, movies can't be watched over and over again...unless you are stoned.

    I don't think movies are going to go the way of music.

  • by ThousandStars (556222) on Friday December 04, 2009 @11:40AM (#30324246) Homepage
    I read the title - "Why Movies Are Not Exactly Like Music" - and thought, "If you can't tell the difference, you've got bigger problems than piracy!"
  • unlike CDs, which people stopped buying once they could get the individual songs they really wanted.

    Is it time for the music industry to attempt to revert back to putting out "complete albums?" If studios went back to creating albums that uses each song as a piece of a whole, rather than disjointed collections of songs that have no relation to each other, would this increase sales? Would today's listeners be receptive to such an album or have we become to "ADD" to be able to handle listening to a whole album?

  • The music industry has failed because they missed the "Why" there was disaggregation. When they pump out huge masses of auto-tuned crap albums where there is only one song that is actually barely listenable, then there is no incentive to buy the whole album when you don't have to. There are precious few artists out there that make an entire album a cohesive unit that resists breaking apart without lessening the individual pieces.

    The music industries death spiral is really obvious these days. I used to go

  • I can download an album in less time than it takes to listen to it. I can barely tell the difference between the downloaded version and what I would buy at a record store. And it's already in the format I want, either for listening to it on the computer or putting it on my iPhone.

    A movie, on the other hand, I'm probably going to have to leave to download overnight. It still won't be quite as good quality as the DVD version, and it will certainly be inferior to the BluRay version. If I want to watch it on my

    • by slim (1652)

      I can download an album in less time than it takes to listen to it.
      [...]
      A movie, on the other hand, I'm probably going to have to leave to download overnight.

      About 10 years ago, I was asking some people on IRC about this newfangled MP3 thing. "So, can you download them as fast as you listen to them?"

      "Almost, sometimes" came the answer.

      Five years from now, a two hour 1080p movie with 5.1 audio will take less than 30 minutes to download on a typical home internet connection. I bet.

  • Dare I say it on /. but ... for movies, DRM worked.

    (Yes I know there are exceptions to what I'm about to say. I'm trying to make a point, not write a voluminous tome of completeness.)

    A CD contains the complete content, uncompressed, with no DRM. Save for a few technical arguments that make most peoples' eyes roll, nothing in audio is better. CD drives are ubiquitous. You can take any CD and pop it into any computer and with few, if any, clicks it is copied into your computer and you never need touch that CD

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