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Nicodemus

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Movies, DVDs, and Studios [Aug. 25th, 2005|09:41 am]
Nicodemus
From Slashdot, a link to a NYT Times article (BugMeNot for login):

Summer Fading, Hollywood Sees Fizzle
An article about the downturn in movie attendance that actually hits at the true cause of the trend: better DVD and home systems coupled with worse movies. The previously-popular scapegoat of "fileswappers and pirates" is nowhere to be seen. Instead, it sounds like the movie studios are realizing the seriousness of the situation (and that they've been producing a lot of crap).

Also, some surprisingly anti-theater comments from Disney's Iger, suggesting that DVDs be released coincidentally with theater releases. (Personally, I'd be happy if they abandoned the lame region codes. I don't find waiting for a DVD release to be that bad, especially if they use the time to add extra features.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shockwave77598
2005-08-25 05:09 pm (UTC)
Extra features mean almost nothing to me. I watch the movie, but I expect it to be entertaining for my money.

I rarely go to the theater anymore. Oh, I went for StarWars3 and all LotR movies, but that's about it. Tickets aren't that bad IMHO, but then you add being raped for popcorn into the equation and you wonder if you'll have to bring a banker along next time. Add the hassle of getting free of the fam or dragging them along, getting there on time and then watching 30 minutes of commercials while everyone around you talks (loudly) on their cellphones, and it's just not worth doing.

I will see Serenity Sept 30. But no other movie I've heard of has interested me enough to go see it. Fantastic Four? Pshaw, right...
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-08-25 06:27 pm (UTC)
See, I'm just the opposite for the extras. If I really like a movie, I like to also know more about its creation and production, what the director was trying to express, etc. I find that stuff quite interesting. Though, again, only if it was a movie I really liked to begin with... which gets back to Hollywood's big problem. :)
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[User Picture]From: polrbear
2005-08-25 07:59 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you there, I watch all the DVD extras that they care to provide. The best is when they have the director and actors commenting on the whole movie as it plays.
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[User Picture]From: xodiac
2005-08-26 12:52 am (UTC)
Personally, I think extras are one of the selling features for DVDs. I mean, yeah, add all the extras you like to a crappy film, and I still won't buy it - it's a crappy film! But if I'm interested enough to give the studios my 10 to 30 bucks, then I'd like a little more than the film. If there's just the film, it might as well be on a tape that you don't have to rewind (and given how often people failed to rewind rented tapes, that's not much of a selling point).
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[User Picture]From: wolfstoy
2005-08-25 05:16 pm (UTC)
I love to go to the movies myself. However, continuing rising costs and non-compelling movies have definitely driven me away from the movie going experience. Add to that the theater experience that can sometimes be crappy, which when you've plunked down nearly $20 for including some overpriced popcorn, drink, and some candy, and you can easily see why a movie that you're on the fence about will just get skipped.

I miss the days of being able to go to an older theater, perhaps one that doesn't have all the latest and greatest sound goodies, but that has a 2 - 3 month old movie that is still months away from coming out on DVD for a discount price. Back in the early 90's, I would go to one place that for $2.25 you'd get a double feature of not-first run movies. Hell, that is where I first saw The Lion King, which I really didn't think I'd like at the time. I was much more willing to try out movies that I'd maybe not have seen otherwise when it was a bargin to do so.

Then there are DVD's. For the same $20 that I could spend on going to see a movie, I can own the damn thing and play it on my own home theater. The one at my trailer kicks ass, but I'm sometimes limited by the volume I can play things out there. Alternately, I can crank up the tunes at my house on a screen that isn't quite as good, but is still as good as most older theaters. Since I don't mind seeing a movie over and over, my $20 is well spent.

In the end, pirating movies just isn't a big problem. The downloads are slow, even with a fast net connection. The video and sound quality are often quite lower and really only adequate for playing on a computer screen. I'm still more willing to go out and spend $20 to see a new release than to watch a crappy encoded movie. I'm sure I'm not alone.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-08-25 06:26 pm (UTC)
We tend to avoid the movie concession stand which makes it cheaper to see it at the theater.

I'd recommend you check out Parkway Speakeasy Theater in Oakland for a great second-run house. Plus, they have couches and serve real food!
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[User Picture]From: penh
2005-08-25 06:43 pm (UTC)
The Parkway Speakeasy is awesome, but I really miss the UC Theater in Berkeley, a gigantic old-time movie house that showed a different double feature most nights, though they'd also do week-long runs of big indie movies sometimes. But it's gone gone gone now. O woe!
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[User Picture]From: ysengrin
2005-08-25 05:25 pm (UTC)
A *good* audience does enhance the experience, just like it does in live theater. Most audiences nowadays don't focus on the film, or the audience is too small to get that communal energy going, so you get loud talking, cellphones, running around and/or throwing things at the screen.

Of course, a lot of films lately haven't even been up to direct-to-video standards of five years ago.

I used to catch at least one movie a week at theaters - now I might see six in a year.
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[User Picture]From: twopiearr
2005-08-25 06:13 pm (UTC)
agreed. i saw freddy vs. jason on opening night with the midnight crowd. die hard fans who yelled at the screen, cheered and booed, and even threw popcorn. magnified the experience enormously, as was made evident when i got the DVD home.

but experiences like that are the exception rather than the norm.
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[User Picture]From: qatar
2005-08-25 05:40 pm (UTC)
Amen to the region coding!

I don't know about downloading pirated movies, but out here you can buy them pretty darn cheap. One of my colleagues already has Madagascar on DVD, for example, and that only just hit the theaters here.

What I find more irritating is that some movies open here the same day as in the US (like Star Wars) while others take months or years to arrive. I want to see Hitchhiker's Guide and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, but I don't know if they'll be here before I move back to the States, and obviously they'll be long gone from the States by then. What do the movie companies gain from that lag?
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-08-25 06:23 pm (UTC)
Evidently, the master prints that the studios send to theaters are expensive to produce. Theaters in countries that get the movie later are getting used prints. After the theater run here (or in whichever countries are the premiere grounds), they collect the prints, pick the best, and send those out to the secondary premiere countries.
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[User Picture]From: qatar
2005-08-26 07:31 am (UTC)
Ah, that makes sense!

Although it does seem weird to me that they still use actual, you know, film.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-08-26 05:05 pm (UTC)
Well, they are trying to get theaters to convert. It will just take a long time to get so many establishments worldwide to change to a new standard.

If handled properly, though, film prints will deliver a terrific quality picture; I think the changeover is happening slowly because there aren't huge and obvious gains from the audience point of view.
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[User Picture]From: the_gneech
2005-08-25 05:43 pm (UTC)
Veddy interesting!

-The Gneech
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[User Picture]From: genecatlow
2005-08-25 07:26 pm (UTC)
All of the above in my case, plus the added insult (and it
IS an insult, make no mistake) of having to sit through a
half-hour of commercials for every movie viewed. I've
seen the last inside of a movie theater that I'll pay to enter.
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[User Picture]From: agentmiss
2005-08-25 09:01 pm (UTC)
I'm just trying to figure out why they think it'll work. The independent theaters where I live shows slides. Quite, inoffensive and local ad and some trivia. Don't only do I not mind them, they've actually worked. I have walked out of there and decided to go to the Mexican restaurant down the street. I have yet to walk out of a movie and think "That was nice, let go get a Mazda"!
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[User Picture]From: penh
2005-08-25 09:16 pm (UTC)
The president of the Century theater chain in the Bay Area makes the lack of commercials a selling point. They have the slide show, of course, but none of those horrific TV ads that other theaters do. Woo!
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[User Picture]From: redstorm
2005-08-25 08:43 pm (UTC)
I hate cinemas in the U.S.
No assigned seating, too many commercials and rude people.

However the really funny thing in the article is the fact that audiences are now refusing to go see the crap films Hollywood pukes out - and it really seems to really shock all the suits.!
Oh? People aren't paying money to see crap? But why?

The standard of generic films has gone waaaay downhill, you can tell the ones that have had time and thought (and sometimes money) invested into them.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-08-25 09:56 pm (UTC)
I hate cinemas in the U.S. No assigned seating

Wow, really? Didn't know that about the UK. Cool.

and it really seems to really shock all the suits

The studios are such an entrenched industry monopoly (er, polyopoly?) that they really haven't focused on the films as much as making a business out of the vehicle. They haven't had to worry about product quality since there's no real competition. (Mainstream theaters don't carry foreign, "art", or independent films.) Now that people have options, the studios are realizing they have a problem...

Don't worry. They'll buy some legislation to protect their business model or something.
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[User Picture]From: ysengrin
2005-08-26 02:28 am (UTC)
The stars get people in that opening weekend; the quality of the film pulls patrons in after that (staying power), and DVD sales later.

It says something that the Hollywood business model is based around maximizing open weekend takes.
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[User Picture]From: agentmiss
2005-08-25 08:55 pm (UTC)
Can anyone explain to be the reasoning behind DVD region coding? Is it just to keep us from buying them somewhere they might be less expensive, or is there some technical reason?

And I don't care what anyone says about DVDs, the theaters have to start taking some of the blame. Expensive tickets, bad popcorn and commercials (top 3 reasons not to go) are all under their control!
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[User Picture]From: penh
2005-08-25 09:14 pm (UTC)
The idea is that DVDs can be released in, say, the American market before the movie has hit theaters in, say, Australia. Thus, those crafty Australians can't buy an American DVD and find out that the movie isn't worth seeing in the theater and will have to wait until their own region gets a DVD.
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[User Picture]From: agentmiss
2005-08-25 10:46 pm (UTC)
You know, I try and not be cynical but so often it leads to being right. So would it in the long run pay to buy an American DVD player? If one didn't live hear that is...
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[User Picture]From: penh
2005-08-26 12:07 am (UTC)
I actually have a region-free player, so I don't have to wait for certain movies (Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later were notable examples) to make their way to the US before I can see 'em. Plus, some older movies are inexplicably available in some regions but not in others, so I had a Chinese copy of Orgazmo long before it ever came to DVD in the States. Yes, I'm special. HFKlix.com has a great selection of region-free players if you wanna get one. :)
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[User Picture]From: qatar
2005-08-26 07:53 am (UTC)
The best solution we've found is to use our laptops as DVD players. Computer DVD players are also region-encoded, but there are ways around that. Or, um, so I hear.

I do have a region 2 DVD player at home (it was a gift) and my employer buys American (region 1) DVD players. We haven't bought an region 2 DVDs, though. The are more expensive.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2005-08-26 05:07 pm (UTC)
One of the first things I tried experimenting with, on my new laptop, was extracting video from DVDs. (Less for region code issues, in my case, and more for making screen captures and video snippets.)
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[User Picture]From: qatar
2005-08-26 07:50 am (UTC)
Theaters here have assigned seating, too. It's nice. You can take your time buying popcorn (which is actually popcorn-priced here) and going to the bathroom and not worry that the good seats will disappear. And when you go to a movie with a big mob of friends, as we often do, you can be sure you can all sit together.
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