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Theaters Unhappy About Faster DVD Releases 664

Posted by Zonk
from the just-get-to-the-downloading-already dept.
dolphinlover writes "As movie studios such as Walt Disney Co. have pushed for more rapid DVD releases of movies to combat piracy on the Internet, executives of movie theater chains such as Regal Entertainment Group and National Amusements Inc. have countered, saying that seeing a movie in the theater is a 'fuller, more entertaining experience' and that the time window between movie and DVD releases should even be extended. Their views run counter to Disney's Chief Executive Rober Iger view that DVDs ought to come out simultaneously with the theater releases of movies. Both sides say their plans would benefit consumers. Is either correct, or are both approaching the situation from the wrong angle?"
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Theaters Unhappy About Faster DVD Releases

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  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:26PM (#15027881) Homepage Journal
    I download my movies, you insensitive clod!
    • Disney pushes for faster DVD releases to combat piracy? If I were to be downloading movies instead of buying them....theoretically that is (glances around nervously)...I would wait until the movie is available for download in it's DVD "screener" or DVD release version (terms I would imagine pirates use, not that I have any first hand account of any of this...it is hot in here? Can I get a glass of water maybe?). I mean, who would really want to see the video-camed version of still-in-theater movies with peo
      • Re:I don't get it... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gunnk (463227)
        I don't want to watch a crappy compressed version of a film in ANY case. Pirated downloads don't come close to the quality of a DVD. I won't watch the little blurry thing with lousy sound. The entertainment value isn't worth the time it takes to watch it.

        I think there are plenty of movies that I end up never seeing because of the lag time between theater release and DVD release. I don't want to spend $20 for tickets (3 in my family) plus $20 for snacks just to put up with all the theater distractions me
  • Wait a second... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrEldarion (114072) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:27PM (#15027888)
    Regal Entertainment Group and National Amusements Inc. have countered, saying that seeing a movie in the theater is a 'fuller, more entertaining experience'

    If seeing a movie in the theater is so significantly better, then there should be no problem here, right? If it's so much "fuller" and "more entertaining," then it should be able to stand on its own without worrying about when DVDs get released.

    That's just not the case, though. Many people only go to theaters because that's where movies go first, and people don't want to wait. When given the choice, many would rather have the DVD. It's cheaper (two movie tickets is often more than the DVD price, and you can watch the DVD whenever you like), the food isn't overpriced, you can sit in more comfortable seats, you don't have to deal with people yelling "WHERE YOU AT" into their cell phones, no commercials, no waiting for the movie to start, you can pause the movie if you need to go to the bathroom, the floors aren't sticky, you don't have to drive anywhere, you don't have to deal with other people asking each other "okay so who's that?" and conversely you can converse with your fellow movie-watchers without getting told to shut up, etc. Yes, you have a big screen and nice sound in the theater, but home theater systems are constantly getting better.

    The theaters are threatened because a lot of people DO prefer watching movies at home, and they're losing their major advantage. If they don't like it, they should try to make their experience better, not bitch and moan about quick DVD releases.

    • Re:Wait a second... (Score:5, Informative)

      by networkBoy (774728) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:34PM (#15027971) Homepage Journal
      I think that there is another problem.
      While seing the movie in the theater is a more fufilling experience, the costs involved are simply too much.
      The movies where I'm at are $9.00 per ticket (IIRC the theater gets none of that), the concessions are also sky high.
      I simply can not afford to go to the movies, so I don't. For the cost of my wife and I going to two movies a month I can rent 6 movies at a time from Netflix and have a couple bucks left over to buy a bag of popping corn that I can flavor however I want.
      That's why movie attendance is declining.
      -nB
    • by EllynGeek (824747)
      Agreed. Going to the theater is not fun for all the reasons you stated, plus:
      -FRIKKEN SOUND VOLUMES IN THEATERS ARE DEAFENING
      -sound leakage from the other movies
      -bad overpriced food, and if you bring your own treats you have to smuggle them in
      -just try to get a person in a wheelchair into a movie theater. Regal are the biggest buttheads of all, they're getting sued all over the place and they still refuse to make any kind of accessibility

      So scroomall. When they make it a good experience, I'll go. Until then
    • by dsanfte (443781) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:34PM (#15027976) Journal
      Theaters are also a magnet for disease. Having that many people in an enclosed room is an awesome way to spread colds and flus. I can't count how many times I've gone to a movie theater and there's been someone sneezing or coughing during the whole damn thing, and not a few times I've caught a cold/flu the next day.

      Give me a DVD anyday.
    • by Casca (4032) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:36PM (#15028003) Journal
      Not only that, but not all movies are equal. The target market for a particular movie will likely have a significant effect on piracy, theatre sales, and DVD sales...
    • This is an excellent post, and outlines why I love using NetFlix over going to see ANY movie at the theater. The last one I saw in the theater was 'Sideways', however being around so many teeny-boppers with their kustom cell fone rings, and buying a few snacks for 16$ (after paying for the tickets) made me think; wouldn't I rather go out for dinner with my wife, and then watch a movie at home, were we could be together and not have to deal with all the BS and annoyance of going to a 'theater'? That "WHERE
    • I totally agree. Now days when a movie comes out that I wish to see, I just que it up on my blockbuster account and wait for it to arrive on DVD. The fact of the matter is, is that my home entertainment system (30" HDTV, 5.1 Surround) is comparible to a theater's. Okay, so my images aren't blurry and 20 feet high, but that doesn't matter since one naturally sits closer to the TV Screen.

      When I get done watching a DVD, I can view alternate endings, outtakes, play a board game based on the movie, etc...

      Abou
    • by coolgeek (140561) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:38PM (#15028030) Homepage
      I don't exactly agree. Yes, if I actually want to see a particular movie I will go to the theater because I get to see it sooner, and before anyone can spoil it for me around the water cooler. So that much I agree with. But the real issue is the cases where I say to myself "I'll wait for the disc". In those cases it is pretty much because the movie looks like it might be another predictable watered-down non-story and I really don't want to risk paying the theater premium to check it out. It wouldn't matter to me if it were 4 days, 4 weeks or 40 weeks before it came to disc, I still wouldn't shell out for the theater in these cases.

      So I have to go with the OP and say they are looking at it from the wrong angle. The time between theater and DVD release doesn't really harm the theaters. The true culprit is all the crap content the studios are producing these days. That and the fact that there simply are too many theaters, at least in L.A. that is the case. The only time I remember going to a full theater in the past 10 years was for Munich on a Saturday Night.
      • by bedroll (806612)
        "Yes, if I actually want to see a particular movie I will go to the theater because I get to see it sooner, and before anyone can spoil it for me around the water cooler."

        "The time between theater and DVD release doesn't really harm the theaters."

        I think you contradicted yourself. Will you really still go see a movie in the theater if it's simultaneously released to DVD?

        Then again, I agree with everyone who says that theaters need to just make their quality of service better and people would be more i

    • We have a 1 year old daughter and going to the movies is simply not realistic. I would pay twice as much to buy movies the week they were released in the theaters rather than try to arrange for babysitting. Basically all that advertising for the release is wasted on me because until it's released on DVD they aren't getting any money from me.

      Movie theaters are going away. There are trade offs watching a movie at home but at this point I far prefer it. My sound is good, my screen is big and sharp. My equ
    • by QuietLagoon (813062)
      The theaters are threatened because a lot of people DO prefer watching movies at home, and they're losing their major advantage. If they don't like it, they should try to make their experience better, not bitch and moan about quick DVD releases.

      The movie (and media) industry will do all it can to attribute all the evils they face to piracy, whether or not piracy has anything to do with the problem. The more the movie (and media) industry drills the word "piracy" into the general public's perception, the

    • by flynt (248848) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:47PM (#15028152)
      the floors aren't sticky

      Speak for yourself.
    • Re:Wait a second... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cornflake917 (515940)
      The theaters are threatened because a lot of people DO prefer watching movies at home, and they're losing their major advantage. If they don't like it, they should try to make their experience better, not bitch and moan about quick DVD releases.

      Honestly, the whole movie theater experience is pure crap. In my town movie tickets goes for about 10 dollars. If I pay for a date it's 20. Why the hell would I pay 20 bucks to watch previews and advertisements before I even get to watch the movie. And what the h
    • Re:Wait a second... (Score:3, Informative)

      by lowrydr310 (830514)
      I don't believe I've seen this covered on slashdot during these discussions, but this is an example of where technology is good for consumers but bad for some businesses.

      Back in the day, theaters were great ways to see movies and provided a unique experience. They had good sound systems and big screens that were much better than the average television sets in peoples homes (remember those bubbly looking 'big screen' TVs enclosed in the wood cabinets?)

      Today, everyone has monstrous high quality television

      • Re:Wait a second... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AgNO3 (878843)

        Today, everyone has monstrous high quality televisions and sound systems that are in most cases better than many movie theatres. Why should someone pay $80 for a family of four to see a movie if they can buy/rent a cheap DVD to play on their home theatre system that they have so much invested in?,

        WOW what reality to do you live in? Most people DO NOT have Monstrous high quality TVs. The problem is that the people that don't have those TV are also the people that can not afford to go to the movie theatr

      • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:11PM (#15029099) Journal
        The big theater chains should first blame Hollywood for making a ton of garbage, then they should go after Best Buy and Circuit City who give credit to people so they can buy large TVs and home theater systems.
        A dinosaur that rails against its own inevitable extinction merely is fossilized as an angry dinosaur. It's no less dead.
    • Re:Wait a second... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:53PM (#15028220) Homepage Journal
      Yep, I think you pretty much summed it up. Theaters are claiming they offer a better experience, but at the same time they're desperately begging for a temporary 'monopoly' on showing films, before they go out on DVD.

      Personally, I want to like going to a movie theater. I really do. I like the experience; there's something sort of uselessly traditional about it. And not owning a home theater with a projector and a few kilowatts of sound amplification, it is a big step above watching a movie at home.

      However, as much as I like going, it's as if the theaters have been doing everything they can to cheapen that experience, to the point where I barely go anymore. And I ought to be their target market -- I have the disposable income and I don't have a home theater, or even a regular TV (their only competition is my 19" computer monitor). But the increased ticket costs, coupled with the outrageous price of refreshments, advertising -- I'm not talking about previews here, but actual bald-faced ads run before them, and the chance of getting stuck in a theater with some asshole who won't shut up; these things all make the value proposition a lot worse than it might otherwise be.

      I think the thing that might save theaters is if they made themselves even smaller. Although I like watching actual film movies, it doesn't seem like this is going to keep them in business. I'm thinking of basically 'extreme home theaters' that could be rented out for an evening for under $100. Get 8 friends together, and grab a theater for a night. Big comfy seats, and you pick a movie out of a catalog and they play it for you. Particularly if they allowed you to bring your own food/drink, I think there could really be a market for such a thing. You pick the start time, and you don't have to worry about being stuck with some obnoxious people (other than the ones you choose to bring, of course). All the equipment would be pretty much standard, off-the-shelf stuff. Maybe they could even get HD versions of movies and show them, since it's going to be a while before most people have that kind of gear at home. And rather than picking from just a few movies, as a viewer you'd have a large catalog. Maybe equivalent to the 'new releases' section of Blockbuster, if you wanted to get the theater the same night, but if you wanted to book in advance, I see no reason why a Netflix-like variety of stuff ought not be available. After all, for the theater it's just a different disc they have to plug in. A well-engineered system might even deliver them by wire, from some giant datacenter somewhere.

      The theaters are clinging to a business model that worked well before people had other choices. Now people have those choices, and they're going elsewhere. If movie theaters want to be around for another generation, they need to put some hard and creative thought into what it is that they offer, and what consumers want and are willing to pay for. Getting a six-week monopoly on a new film is a shoddy way to stay in business, and I think in the long run, consumers will find other ways to spend their time while they're waiting for the DVD to come out.
      • Yep, I think you pretty much summed it up. Theaters are claiming they offer a better experience, but at the same time they're desperately begging for a temporary 'monopoly' on showing films, before they go out on DVD.

        (snip)

        The theaters are clinging to a business model that worked well before people had other choices. Now people have those choices, and they're going elsewhere. If movie theaters want to be around for another generation, they need to put some hard and creative thought into what it is that they
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davidstrauss (544062) <<ten.ssuartsdivad> <ta> <divad>> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:27PM (#15027896)
    How could consumers possibly benefit from fewer choices? If seeing the movie in the theater is better, then I'll do that regardless of whether the DVD is out.
    • Absolutely. I think this is the main issue; more choices is always better for the consumer. Regal can't really think that taking away the choice to watch the DVD (instead of, or in addition to seeing it in the theatres) is good for the consumer; they're just protecting themselves from the (perceived) loss of customers.
  • union? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:28PM (#15027908)
    Are theatre owners across the nation members of a union of some sort? Or an association that collectively negotiates with the movie studios? I'd love to see these guys shut down their theatres for a few weeks just before a few big blockbusters are set to be released.
  • O RLY (Score:2, Funny)

    by Eightyford (893696)
    Theaters Unhappy About Faster DVD Releases

    Did I click on The Onion by accident? No shit they are unhappy about it. What did you expect?
  • 'fuller, more entertaining experience'

    So despite the fact that distributors have disrupted the free market in order to slant movie watching towards being in theatres by staggering the release of the movie on DVD until 6 months after it is released in the threatres, this supposedly "fuller, more entertaining experience" needs further help to survive in a free market?

    Personally I like going to the movies with friends, but if it was "better" then surely people would choose that over a DVD with both are availab

  • UK releases (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:30PM (#15027927) Homepage Journal
    Going to the cinema does make for a better movie experience, however smaller screens and more choice have (for me anyway) ironically removed the big premier movies, over here now my local cinema has closed and left only the megaplex type places which don't feel the same.
    The cinemas are being pushed to show more and more films, with releases almost every weekend it feels very diluted with no build up.

    I would goto the cinema here in England if opening night was worldwide instead of opening in America weeks or months ahead, the first time you hear about a movie makes your mind up - if thats months before the UK release you end up hearing about the next big American movie and forget about the one you wanted to see.

    We live in a global village and the internet has allowed us to hear the hype about American releases much sooner than they are available, there was a time when tv/magazines etc would begin the push once it reached our shores, there might be a one liner about some premier or other, but the magazines focued on what was available over here, now within days of the American release theres a cam or a screener available (sometimes sooner) - no need to spend cash.

    So global releases and hype when it is due will get me back, I couldn't care less about delay to DVD as long as the movie is available in the cinemas when I hear about it.
  • obvious answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:31PM (#15027940) Homepage Journal
    The side that gives consumers choice is right. So let's see who that is. Movie producer is saying: let's put the DVD's out at the same time. That will allow consumers to decide whether to buy or to see the movie in the theater. The theaters want to keep the movies out of consumers hands, forceing them to see the movie in the theater if they want to be able to talk about the movie in the watercooler relevance timeframe.

    So the movie producer is right.
  • If the question regards benefit to the consumer, then by all means release simultaneously, giving consumers the maximum opportunity to choose their viewing experience.

    That ain't the question, however. The real question is how do film producers and distributors maximize their profit - and the theater chains are simply the tail getting wagged by the dog on this one. If they want to thrive, they need to emphasize the "experience" that they purport to offer, which for starters, would mean:

    1) Rationalize the
    • "2) If the movie claims to start at 7:00, start the upcoming feature trailers no later than 7:05 - if you want to show lots of other ads, do it before 7:00 with the lights still partially up."

      Sorry, not my choice, if it says it starts at 7:00, start it at 7. I get my trailers on iTunes and the net, I'd rather not waste another 20 minutes watching some disney knockoff trailer for something not funny, or worse, hear others laugh at it.

      If the feature starts at 7:15, tell me on the ticket, put trailers at 7! or
  • There is absolutely no reason for theatres to be unhappy about earlier releases of DVDs. Why?

    Because, most films are in and out of the theatre in a mere 2 weeks unless they're big hits (Harry Potter, LotR, etc.) or Hollywood agenda films (Brokenback Mountain) which Hollywood will keep in theatres for months and months even without ticket sales.

    But how long was Serenity in theatres? how long was Night Watch? or Joe Avg film. Not long. I try to see my out-of-state fiance at least once a month. often there
  • Here's an easy solution... bring back ushers to theaters. If someone is talking, kick them the fuck out. I've had people THREATEN me with physical violence because I told them to shut up while I was trying to watch the movie I payed for. Get the rude assholes out of the theater and maybe more people would be willing to go. I used to really enjoy going to see a movie in a theater, when people had a little common courtesy. I've even gone to see re-releases in the theater, because it's a fun night out - b
    • I agree. There are many things that could be done to improve theaters, but ushers would be the biggest. A few ushers with a simple no-nonsense "get out" policy (no warnings during the movie, no refunds when you are kicked out) would work wonders. In addition, I would add there should be a camera (and infrared lights) in the theater so that the ushers can watch people easily to make sure no one is talking constantly or anything like that. If they find 'em, they go in and remove 'em.

      Really, the last few time

  • by mellon (7048) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:32PM (#15027954) Homepage
    What we're really seeing here is the invisible hand of the market correcting an imbalance that's existed for a long time. The stick is piracy: studios don't like it, obviously. The carrot is, if you release the film on DVD immediately, people will buy that instead of the pirated version. A win for everyone except the pirates and the theaters.

    And what about the theaters? They've had us over a barrel for years, charging insane prices for tickets and for food from the concession stand. This isn't going to be a lot of fun for them, because now their audience is going to be solely people who actually like to go to movie theaters. And this is certainly smaller than the audience of people who either like to go to movie theaters or don't like to wait for movies to hit video.

    The theater owners are in denial about this - they're not planning for it - and that's going to hurt them, unfortunately. If they were to jump on board and start planning for the inevitable, I think it'd work out pretty well. In the long run, it'll work out anyway - some people really do like to see a movie in a theater. I certainly do. Target that audience, and give that audience the experience they want, and you've got a solid business. Unfortunately, it's probably a smaller business than the one you have now. Sad for theater operators, but really not fixable.
    • by PCM2 (4486)

      And what about the theaters? They've had us over a barrel for years, charging insane prices for tickets and for food from the concession stand.

      Well, I'm not sure you can totally blame the theaters for this behavior. I believe it starts with the studios, and what they demand from the theaters for the privilege of showing their movies. This is not just the fees to get a copy of the film, but stuff like refusing to release movies to theaters that aren't fitted with the latest Dolby Digital 12-speaker sound

    • View from the east (Score:5, Interesting)

      by raju1kabir (251972) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:11PM (#15028450) Homepage

      Greetings from piracy ground zero (southeast Asia). The day a movie comes out in the cinema anywhere, I can find it at any of dozens of shops within a 10-minute walk of my home on DVD for US$2. The quality is bad for the first few weeks, but the shopkeepers are honest about it, and customers can decide whether it's worth waiting for a better version.

      Hollywood studios used to release films months later here than in the US. Absolutely everyone watched the pirated ones, and cinemas were empty, closing down left and right.

      Now they do simultaneous release (US and Asia), there is a new breed of cinemas with reclining seats and über-THX Dolby what-have-you, tickets are US$2.50, and films don't stay in the cinema longer than 2 or 3 weeks (this is easier than in the west because there is a far wider range of films to show - in addition to all the American movies they show Hong Kong, Korean, Indian, Japanese stuff, subtitled into 2 or 3 languages depending on the source).

      It seems to be working. The cinemas are crowded - last show at the big ones in town is after midnight and even then there are a lot of sold-out screens. The first week a popular movie is out, the only way you're going to see it in the evening is if you make a reservation online or via mobile. People go to the movies for the experience, because the experience is genuinely different from watching at home. And then when the supply of people who want that experience is tapped out, they leave it to the pirates.

      So I really don't think the availability of DVDs is cannibalising the cinemas' market. Or if it is, they have successfully adapted to it.

      Granted, I've never seen a legit DVD for sale here and I couldn't imagine where to go to find one, but I guess not everyone can be a winner.

  • Someone to clean the damn place, someone to watch for people on their phones, and someone to keep others from talking during the whole movie.

    Theaters live in a happy-crappy-monopoly. Yeah, they're not a true monopoly, but they have a crappy level of quality they can hit and people still come!

    When they can provide something worth doing, I'll go. Right now I only go when I want to see something badly enough, I probably saw 4 movies last year in theaters.
  • So counter it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:33PM (#15027963) Homepage
    We are getting close and closer to simultaneous releases (one movie has already done it).

    So why don't the theaters step up to the plate? Besides fixing all the other things that they often need to (which will be brought up endlessly in this thread) why not sell the DVDs? Here is the theory:

    You go to a movie and you when come out you are offered the chance to buy the DVD of the movie you just saw for... $10. Same with the soundtrack (for $6).

    If you liked the movie, then you can buy the DVD right then and there. If you didn't, then you don't have to buy it. This would be an extra source of revenue for the theaters, and would probably boost DVD sales (since it would be much easier to sell to someone who just watched the movie than someone walking by a display in Wal*Mart or Best Buy). Those who don't go to movie theaters (like me) would still buy the DVD at a store as usual.

    In fact, by selling that DVD for $10 and not the normal $20, I'm betting there are people who would go to the theater just to buy that DVD that way. The cost of that DVD ($10) plus the cost of the movie ($20?) would be more than the DVD alone at a store ($20), but they would also get to have the theater experience for what would be a discount ($10 difference) compared to normal price.

    Theaters are still trying to be what they were in the 70s when you couldn't watch any movie you want any time. Heck, things have hardly changed from the 40s in the theaters, except for the lack of newsreels and the amazing number of ads they show.

  • Pissed about what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cybrchrst (535172)
    What is it that they could be pissed off about? If the delay between theater and DVD is at least 4 weeks, that's more than enough as most movies are in and out of the theater chain system by then anyway. The only theaters that might have a problem would be the dollar theaters, but they tend to show indie films anyway. What the theaters should really be pissed about is how movie studios are churning out complete and absolute shit that is not attracting much of an audience.
  • by KC7GR (473279) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:34PM (#15027977) Homepage Journal
    I'm for simultaneous release.

    There will always be those who will want to see a movie in the commercial theaters. These are most likely folks who have chosen, for whatever reason, not to invest in home theater setups. There's no problem with that at all.

    There will also be those who couldn't be paid to set foot into a commercial theater. These are folks who have chosen to go the home-theater route, however much they chose to spend, and who are tired of screaming kids, sticky floors, and inconsiderate boobs who don't seem to know where the 'Off' switch is on their cellphone or pager. There's no problem with this mindset either.

    So, with that in mind: Go ahead and do simultaneous release of DVD and in-theater. Let the paying consumer choose what format they want to see the movie in. Even better, get the rental outlets to pick up on it when the DVD hits. That way, if it looks too good to be true (as 'Robots' did to me... Lord, what a dud!), it'll be low-risk to the buying public to find out.

    Heck, simultaneous release might even provide motivation for the studios to put out better movies. If they do such a release, and it bombs, the loss will be much greater than if they just did a theatrical release, so the motivation will be "Do a better job!"

    Keep the peace(es).



  • The Public Movie Theater is dead. Long live the Home Theater.

  • simple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AmigaBen (629594)
    Is either correct, or are both approaching the situation from the wrong angle?"

    Quite simply, they're both coming at it from the angle of their own revenue streams. There's no right and wrong, you just need to choose whose pile of money you're talking about.

  • Both sides say their plans would benefit consumers.
    Well, why don't they just try them both out, then we know who's right?
  • Fuller experience? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:35PM (#15027992) Homepage Journal

    Maybe, if you can avoid 20+ minutes of annoying ads followed by 15 minutes of previews. And if you manage to get an audience where people don't spend the entire movie yakking on cell phones or narrating the action to their friends "Later in the movie you find out that 'Rosebud' is his sled. But this is the part where..."

    A good trip to the movie theater is much better than just watching TV because it's a communal experience [hyperborea.org]. It's the modern equivalent of sitting around a campfire listening spellbound to a good storyteller. When you interfere with that experience -- by playing obnoxious ads or by talking -- you make it worse than the solitary experience of the living room. People are less inclined to go to the effort to risk all that frustration.

    What can theaters do?

    1. Ditch or majorly cut down on the ads.
    2. Limit the previews. 3 per film is a good balance between showing people what's coming up and actually getting to the even they came in for.
    3. Enforce policies. If audience members can ignore three "Please silence your cell phones" announcements and a cutesy short film clip telling them the same thing, they need a little more persuasion.

    And if rude audience members would just be a little more polite, and studios would make better movies, the rest of us would be more inclined to go in the first place.

    • by raygundan (16760) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:15PM (#15028499) Homepage
      No kidding! How the hell can anyone keep a straight face while claiming that 20 minutes of previews and commercials, unmaintaned projection equipment, uncomfortable seats, the occasional mobile ringing, people talking, and lousy (but extremely loud) sound is better than popping in a DVD at home?

      A significant fraction of our local theatres have equipment so lousy/dirty/scratchy/unfocused that I'm confident watching a DVD at home has better picture quality. When the HD formats take hold, there will be no contest.

      He bitches and moans about how "cheap" movie tickets are compared to things like symphonies-- but honestly, a live performance by hundreds of musicians is worth a tad more than some kid hitting "start" on the projector.

      I like your list, but would add a bit:

      1. Boot phone/noise offenders. Ban repeat offenders.
      2. Pay a professional to maintain your equipment.
      3. Eliminate ads, run previews *prior* to published start time only.
  • > Theaters Unhappy About Faster DVD Releases

    That's OK, theater owners. (In Soviet America...) DVD users are unhappy about Theater Releases.

    For the one or two movies a year when you're willing to put up with cell phone ringtones and screaming babies in order to see/hear/feel the explosions (and the jiggling body parts) louder/bigger/better than your home theather can provides, the theaters provide a useful service.

    And in probably the one or two times a year when I'll sympathize with MPAA: Faste

  • I mean honestly, with the dropping cost of home entertainment systems is there really that much of a drive to spend the money to goto the theator any more?

    There are some flicks I'll head out for, block buster action flicks usually (HP 4, Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, and Underworld 2 where the last 3 movies I saw in the theator). But for most movies my home entertainment system is plenty good enough.

    But why would I spend over $30 ($6+ in gas, $18 in tickets, $8 in refreshments) to take my wife to a movie in
    • $6+ in gas

      Wow, I thought I lived a long way from a movie theater.

      Or are you driving an RV to the movie theater?

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:51PM (#15028196) Homepage
      I mean honestly, with the dropping cost of home entertainment systems is there really that much of a drive to spend the money to goto the theator any more?

      There are some flicks I'll head out for, block buster action flicks usually (HP 4, Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, and Underworld 2 where the last 3 movies I saw in the theator). But for most movies my home entertainment system is plenty good enough.

      I hear this argument a lot, and I see where you're coming from. But the way I grew up, people went out to the movies because it was an excuse to, you know... leave the house! It works like this: You find a nice girl, you go to a movie, you get dinner at a restaurant down the road from the theater, you chat about the film ... et cetera.

      Having a cool home theater system is nice and all but sometimes I just want a reason to go do something. And local theater is really, really hit or miss, and rock shows are loud and it sucks to have to stand around for hours after you've been working all week. What's wrong with going out to a movie?

      P.S. I know, I know ... I must be new here.

  • Theatre owners need to examine their offerings, their model, the whole shooting match with a view to a world where DVD and movie releases are simultaneous. From some rough concepts and numbers I've sketched out, I think there may well be some viable business models that would survive in that world, but if they don't like the thought of change they need to get out now.

    I'd suggest that timescales will shorten even more, then quickly disappear altogether - first for second string movies, then the blockbuster

  • Movie theaters are complaining because the sooner DVDs come out the less time movies are shown in the theater. Less time means consumers will likely opt to not go to the theater and wait & buy the DVD. What the entertainment industry wants is to dip into the consumers' pockets as many times possible. By moving the DVD releases up then it's the theaters that are not getting their dip.

    Currently:
    1. theater
    2. Pay-per-view
    3. DVD

    Proposed (and future potential slippery slope outcome):

    1. Theater/pay-per-view/DVD

    I'm not

  • So basically what they're saying is the realize they have no value add anymore. "Customers aren't coming to theaters anymore and we can't figure out why so push back those dvd releases even farther!!!"

    New flash:
    • Pushing back dvd releases won't make anymore people go to the theater's, it'll make more pirate
    • Your 12$ tickets and 10$ popcorn aren't helping the cause. You'd make up for the drop in price by rise in sales... they've yet to figure this out
    • When I pay 12$ for a damn ticket, I don't expect to watch 20
  • Why is this news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:43PM (#15028082)
    Ford thinks Toyota should import less cars. Kelloggs thinks General Mills should make less cereal. Telecoms want Google to pay them money (OK, that one is news, bad example). Anyway, the point is, of course Movie Theaters want an advantage over their competition, but who cares? There must be a hundred times a day that some consortium tries to change some aspect of their industry to their advantage.

    Just out of curiosity, when Americans are spending billions of dollars a year on stuff called "Home Theater," what did theaters think was going to happen to revenue?

  • The problem isn't the DVD's. It's a few things....

    Hollywood has been turning crap movie after crap movie out every year. What they don't realize is we can sometimes get equivalent stuff that may even be better. Examples are the very well done Star Wars and Star Trek fan flics we've been able to download for free. Hllywood wants to make easy movies and they are not challenging themselves or the screenwriters any more. Considering that of all the summer block busters in the last few years we have seen a
  • Let 'em suffer (Score:3, Informative)

    by vprasad (533778) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:44PM (#15028103)
    Regal isn't playing with a full deck anyway... http://www.alternet.org/story/34016/ [alternet.org]
  • Bwaa.... the DVD's are stealing our profits, mommy!!!

    I wonder why the theaters don't focus instead on:

    * Provide better services
    * Wiping the floor filled with dried sodas
    * Having better restrooms cleaned more often
    * Having better rules like getting someone out when his cellphone rings
    * Asking less for the popcorn ($3.00 for the big one, and $2.99 for the small one which has 50% less)

    Oh, I forgot it, they still think we're money-spending idiots who want to fill their pockets. Too bad.
  • Their business model is becoming irrelevant. Much as the music industry selling songs on physical media, their model is failing. So they flail around looking for someone to blame ( much as the riaa does ).

    Of course, I can't believe I'm actually agreeing with Disney on this. Those people are soulless.
  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:45PM (#15028111) Homepage Journal
    Remember when book stores were supposedly going away?

    Well, a lot of the neighborhood ones are gone. But there are still plenty of bookstores going strong. They either are huge box stores that offer espresso, a wide variety of magazines and books for browsing, and comfy chairs; or -- they are specialist stores with knowledgeable staff and also have a nice browsing environment and a variety of related goods (e.g. sci fi books and gaming). Either way, these stores are not just means of distributing books; they're destinations you go to in their own right.

    I think if the theaters truly believed that the experience they offer is so much better than the home theater experience, they could survive even if movies were simultaneously released for DVD, download and theater. They'd be happier and make more money if the other media didn't exist of course. But, I think, the experience they offer is not so superior that most people would bother. They are not, in other words, places you'd go to for their own sake.

    Which is odd in a way. The old neighborhood movie houses were. Sometimes you went down to the movies to see a movie you had to see. Othertimes you just went to see whatever they were showing you, or more likley a double feature, with a cartoon reel and maybe a news reel. What's interesting is that the neighborhood movies houses that haven't been abandoned or carved into little bits still are destinations in their own right, if not to the same degree they were once. The sterile suburban cineplexes are possibly an idea whose time has come and is going.

  • .. s**t.. I'd rather pay $3.50 for 2 people or more to watch a movie on dvd than $10/per person to watch in theater. I watch movies for content, not the sticky floor, obnoxious person laughing to loud and 3 hours squirming while I gotta take a leak from a ginormous soda that cost $8.

    The new smaller theaters allow you to hear the movie that is in the theater next to you, and in the end the experience sucks. I'd rather enjoy snuggling up on a sofa with my other half and watch a movie in the comfort of my o

  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @02:46PM (#15028129)
    Hello, McFly, anybody home? At $8.00+ a pop per person for a ticket and about another $15 to $20 for food and drinks only to have to sit in a crowded room with idiots on their cell phones, large groups of annoying teenagers, retards who bring their crying infants and old women explaining things scene by scene to their deaf husbands, do you wonder why consumers are increasingly staying home?

    Going to see a movie is about more than just the movie, it's about the experience and as it stands now in most theaters, the experience sucks. There's an awesome theater about a half hour away with huge seats spaced far enough apart where you can order good food (not just pop corn and candy) and alcoholic beverages. If I'm going to spend a small fortune to go see a show it'll be in a place like that. Otherwise I'm hitting the second run theater a month after the show comes out or catching it on DVD 6 months later.

    It boils down to prices versus experience. If I'm going to be in a crowded theater with seats close together and have to put up with all of the other crap I mentioned above, then it better be for a reasonable price. I don't mind paying more, but it better be in a theater that provides an experience that justifies the price.

    It's a shame too because I used to love going to the movies but now I reserve it for the big budget, special effects laded summer popcorn flicks. Those spectacles were made to be enjoyed on the big screen and I'm willing to tolerate the crap some of the time.
  • It actually is a "fuller, more entertaining experience", as long as they're referring to my bladder after drinking the $6.00 small-keg-o-cola, and the joy of impromptu voiceovers from a 12 year old with a cell phone and The Batteries Of Infinite Talk Time (tm). I was in tears by the end of "Return Of The King", and it had nothing to do with the movie.
  • by hellfire (86129) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [vdalived]> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:00PM (#15028318) Homepage
    What benefits the consumer is what the consumer wants. What do they want? Do they want the theater experience or do they want the comfort of their own home entertainment center?

    Frankly, Even at $25 for two tickets and popcorn, and seeing a movie approxamitely once every other week, if I decided to save that money, I'd still not have enough money for the minimum payment on a $5000 entertainment center, complete with surround sound and super sized TV.

    I also find the experience of a theater very enjoyable. The screen is bigger than I can buy anywhere, the accoustics and sound system at a modern theater are very good in my experience, AND I get the experience of being in an audience. Laughing and cheering with a bunch of people in a theater has always made any more more enjoyable. Some of the star wars haters will always complain, but the feeling of the audience whooping and hollering when Yoda uses the force to whip out his lightsabre and get into a fighting stance... it's priceless emotion.

    And nothing beats an action movie on a huge screen. Sense and sensibility doesn't lose anything being watched on your TV, but you had to see... and I mean SEE... episode 3 on a big screen at least once to get the beauty of the visuals... if you are into that sort of thing.

    Now, you may prefer being at home and not want to deal with the muck on the floor, or stupid people with cell phones. You may not want to have to deal with schedules or times. These do not bother me as much. I'm selective of my movie theaters and some of those theaters do suck much more than others. I prefer comfortable seats and decent equipment and no weird smells. If you don't have a theater like this, I would not be surprised if you prefer home theaters. If your eyes aren't sharp like mine then pretty special effects might not impress you at a 50 foot viewing angle.

    The point is, the market should go where ever the market says it wants. If people like movies in the theater, fine. If people want to see more movies sooner at home instead, fine. BOTH of these men are looking at the issue from a selfish perspective, regardless of who is right. I believe there will always be demand for movies in the theater, but how much is dependent on the people buying the tickets and DVDs, not the CEO pigs who want to take your money regardless of what you really want.
  • Theaters traditionally make more money per ticket the longer a film is out. The first hot weekend, much more of the ticket costs go to the distributors, later, the theater keeps more and more of the ticket price.

    Studios are incented to pack everyone into the first weekend. Theaters want nothing more than the sleeper hit of the year -- where audience builds over time.

    Faster dvd releases mean less opportunity for the most profitable time a movie is in the theaters.
  • Here's my idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slapout (93640) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:11PM (#15028446)
    If you want the theater experience to be a 'more entertaining experience' then you need to do a few things.

    1. Pay the workers more than min wage. That way they're be cheerful and friendly to me.

    2. Don't make me pay insane prices for food/drink.

    3. Start to use digital projectors. (Make the experience better with better looking films.)

    4. Show better films. (Talk to your friends in Hollywood, tell them to spend less of their budgets on marketing and more on the script.)

    5. Move the seats further apart. Make it a comfortable experience.

    6. Fewer commericals. (More trailers instead.)

    • Re:Here's my idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:43PM (#15028791) Homepage
      1. Pay the workers more than min wage. That way they're be cheerful and friendly to me.

      Despite the popular misconception, theaters are not cash cows flush with funds. Paying people more is a good way to drastically increase overhead, which means you need higher ticket prices, higher concession prices, more ads before the movie, or some combination of all three.

      Furthermore, paying someone more does not automatically mean they'll be better employees. If you doubt that, just compare a union worker with his or her non-union counterpart. The union workers usually have comfy union-negotiated salaries or hourly rates with generous benefits, shorter hours, longer breaks, and more vacation time. They also are generally less productive and more surly than non-union employees. I understand there are exceptions to every rule, but as a general rule, union employees make more and do less than non-union.

      2. Don't make me pay insane prices for food/drink.

      And why do you think things are so expensive? Because the theater owner has to pay for his fleet of Ferrari's in his garage? See comment #1, specifically the part about theaters not being big moneymakers to begin with. The theater essentially makes all its money off concessions. Ticket prices barely cover costs. No profit == theater closes down. Theaters cannot be run on welfare.

      3. Start to use digital projectors. (Make the experience better with better looking films.)

      Have you priced any of these things? Digital projectors for theaters can cost well into the six figures. Who's going to pay for all that? The theater owner who's barely covering costs already (and doing that by charging high prices for concessions, remember)? Not hardly. He's doing all he can not to go under ever time he shows a flop. The big chains are hurt quite a bit by this, but the little chains are being absolutely murdered by studio requirements for sound and picture upgrades that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per theater room. For a 24 screen megaplex you could be talking a few million dollars to upgrade the whole theater. Do you have any idea how many $5 cokes and $8 bags of popcorn you'd have to sell to recoup such a cost?

      4. Show better films. (Talk to your friends in Hollywood, tell them to spend less of their budgets on marketing and more on the script.)

      No argument there, but that's hardly something controllable by the theater owners.

      5. Move the seats further apart. Make it a comfortable experience.

      So you can fit fewer people into a theater, which means less revenue per showing, which means losses increase, which means either (a) higher ticket prices, (b) higher concession prices, (c) a combination of A and B, or (d) the theater goes out of business. There isn't some magical money tree growing in the theater manager's office, you know.

      6. Fewer commericals. (More trailers instead.)

      Which, again, reduces revenue. Are you willing to pay higher prices to get fewer ads? I'd bet not.

      Look, I have a monster home theater setup. I rarely go to theaters anymore precisely because of the issues you cite above. However, I'm not naive enough to think all this is the fault of the theater owner. The majority of the issue sits with the studios requiring amazingly high fees for showing the movie, forcing the theater chains to charge what they do and show as many ads as they do just to cover costs and eek out a meager profit. The studios do this because they have to finance the next US$200 million Hollywood flop and pay the lead actor's US$100 million salary (see Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, etc.)

      Blaming the theater for your above items is about as stupid as blaming the gas station for high gas prices. Or did you not know the average gas station makes about a 2-3 cent profit per gallon, nothing more? Like gas stations, theaters are at the end of a long chain of costs, trying to sell a product to you at a reasonable cost that allows them to stay in business and make a small amount of profit. Judge them a little less harshly in light of this if you don't mind.
    • Re:Here's my idea (Score:3, Informative)

      by Apotsy (84148)
      3. Start to use digital projectors. (Make the experience better with better looking films.)

      Uh, no. Not unless you want the quality to be worse. The contrast and resolution still aren't there. The quality of a good, properly projected film print far exceeds that of any currently available video projector. In the future there might be something that can compete, but not today.

      Instead, studios should just spend the extra 5% or so it would cost to print on Kodak 2393 stock. That would vastly improve quality

    • Re:Here's my idea (Score:3, Informative)

      by evilviper (135110)

      3. Start to use digital projectors. (Make the experience better with better looking films.)

      Not interested. Film looks quite good. Personally, I somewhat expect digital projection to give worse quality, such as all kinds of digital compression artifacts, and CRT/LCD/DLP artifacts.

      6. Fewer commericals. (More trailers instead.)

      I hate trailers just slightly less than I hate commercials...

      Why not have a cheap digital projector displaying cartoons on the screen, up until the film starts? Or, perhaps old public

  • by The_REAL_DZA (731082) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:12PM (#15028462)
    To the theatre chains:
    Let's see if I understand what you're asking/expecting. I have a
    • 36" tube television (yes, it's one heavy mofo, and I hereby declare a pox on the engineer who designed it with out handles somewhere on it, but that's a slightly different rant...)
    • an inexpensive but completely satisfactory Dolby 5.1 surround system (which, to date, "Monsters Inc." seemed to take the best advantage of...go figure)
    • leather covered La-Z-Boy (rocking) recliner
    • a private bathroom of which I can avail myself at any time without missing any of a movie/show thanks to the handy-dandy pause button on my
    • personal remote control (which, btw, also allows me to relive however many exciting/hilarious/etc. seconds of whatever I may be watching as many times as I want...)
    And, lastly (just to round-out my "experience") I have
    • two three-year-olds, so I can count on the floor being sticky and the air to be full of popcorn

    And you want me to pay >1/2 the purchase price of a DVD to fight my way across town to stand in line to sit beside a teenage cell-phone-addict , behind the lady with the towering beehive and in front of the place-kicker for the Tennessee Titans to see a movie once ? And you want me to wait even longer after the studios figure they've milked all they can from the theatre-going crowd to get to view it in the abovementioned (and, in case you missed this, preferrable ) venue?


    I bet they wonder why I rank them with telemarketers and spammers...
  • Here's an idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ghoser777 (113623) <.fahrenba. .at. .mac.com.> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:22PM (#15028566) Homepage
    How about I get a copy of the DVD for going to the theater? Or make the DVD an optional part of the ticket price? Or you can decide if you want to buy the DVD when you leave?
  • by kimvette (919543) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:30PM (#15028642) Homepage Journal
    "We need to be focused on bringing the wow factor back to the experience," she said. "Movies are meant to be seen in the theater."

    seeing a movie in the theater is a 'fuller, more entertaining experience'

    I prefer watching movies at home with friends. Here's why:

      - I keep my floors clean.
      - My chairs, sofa, futon, etc. are very comfortable - unlike backache-inducing, more-cramped-than-coach-seats-on-commercial-airlin er seats at a theater (and while I'm slightly overweight I'm no fatty, only a size 12. Buying an elliptical to shed the fat, BTW)
      - I can put my feet up, stretch, lie down, hop on one foot, or stand on my head while watching a movie at home
      - No annoying people yelling "Oh no you di'nt" at the screen
      - film's superior resolution is more than negated relative to DVD by perpetually-out-of-focus projectors. If my television ever goes out of focus I'll crack it open and adjust it, or replace it. Theaters never bother to pay a "projectionist" to maintain focus throughout a movie - or even adjust focus beforehand
      - Even stadium seating sucks
      - I can pause DVDs for pee breaks
      - I can eat whatever I want during a movie at home, drink water without paying $3.00 for 16oz of tap water, make a milkshake, or whatever
      - My sound system at home (mostly Pioneer Elite components) is far superior to typical movie theater systems

    Now, if they were to keep the movies in focus, push seat rows slightly further apart so I can put my feet up (or let the seat lean back a little more), either clean up the floor or throw out punks who leave a mess (or preferably both), oh, and did I mention actually focusing the projector? Then, a theater experience might be better than a DVD. I've seen only ONE movie in the last few years that was very crisply focus, and it went out of focus just a few minutes into it.

    I really would like to know why paying $11/person to watch an out-of-focus movie on a big screen is superior to OWNING the DVD for between $9.00 and $25.00 and watching it in very crisp focus on a 36" screen. Somebody please explain this to me. I've only bothered going to one movie in the last year (Chronicles of Narnia/The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe) and that's ONLY because I've been a fan of the Narnia books for 23 years. I usually wait for the movie to hit DVD before seeing it.
  • by Amigori (177092) * <eefranklin718 @ y ahoo.com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @03:34PM (#15028679) Homepage
    I can remember when, probably 10 years or so, movies were in the theater for MONTHS at a time instead of WEEKS. The quantity of movies coming out of Hollywood was less, and the quality was arguably better. Now, you have mostly crap coming every week, that were shot on a budget millions over what it should have been done for, that are uninteresting. Every few months, a decent movie comes along, makes good money, but is pulled because the next craptacular film needs the required 4 screen space.

    Alot of readers here have already pointed out the physical theater disadvantages, commercials, exorbitant ticket & food prices, cell phones, and voice-overs, so I won't bother expanding upon those point.

    Hollywood is just trying to figure out the fastest way to sell us crap and DVD is cheaper than sending out 2400, 88-min long, film reels.

  • It's a miracle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Illbay (700081) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:10PM (#15029642) Journal
    When you think about it, it is nothing short of miraculous that movie theaters have survived, and even thrived, as long as they have. I wouldn't have thought they'd make it much longer than drive-ins.

    In fact, just after television came on the scene, the film industry was forced to introduce "novelties" like Cinerama [wikipedia.org], CinemaScope [wikipedia.org] ("Movies Are Better Than Ever!" went 20th Century Fox's ad slogan) and Panavision [wikipedia.org] to counter the "let's just stay home and watch TV!" attitude that was beginning to arise in the early 50s.

    Lately, we've seen the advent of stadium seating [wikipedia.org] and of course IMAX [wikipedia.org]. While technically impressive, these latter-day improvements to the motion picture theater experience are really just a continuation of the battle for entertainment consumers' hearts and minds.

    Now, with the very-affordable home theater systems available today, and high-density DVD formats about to make their entry, I think it's only a matter of time before theaters begin to die. The cost of transportation, tickets and concessions, not to mention the use of precious time, aren't worth it already to a great many people.

    Within ten years, I predict that "new release" will mean a film is now available via subscription service to download to your home theater system, and indoor movie theaters will seem as quaint then as drive-in theaters do now.

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