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Movie Burning Kiosks Coming To Retailers 173

Vitaly Friedman writes "The motion picture industry is in talks with some major retailers about installing DVD burning kiosks in stores. It's an interesting idea, but one that almost entirely misses the point. Hollywood's movie distribution system is in dire need of a fix - very few will dispute that. Movie attendance has been suffering, DVD sales are slumping, and all the industry has managed to do is come up with a half-baked, unpopular download service and a scant handful of simultaneous releases. In another attempt to sort of give consumers what they want, the motion picture industry is thinking about allowing retailers to set up in-store kiosks for distribution."
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Movie Burning Kiosks Coming To Retailers

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  • benefit? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 04, 2006 @07:44AM (#15465803)
    How is this better than buying the DVDs as one does now? You get to wait in the store for the DVD to be created, and pretend that it's more convenient than picking it off the shelf?
  • by fluch ( 126140 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @07:47AM (#15465806)
    Hey! When will they learn, that one makes bussines by giving value for money and people will buy it? Why should I download a movie from the movie industries distribution channels if it costs nearly as much as a DVD, I can only watch it on my (non-existing) Windows PC and don't get any bonus material and won't get any nicely done packaging and that nearly for the price of a DVD?

    If DVDs are sold for a reasonable price (here in Finland that is definitely not the case), then people buy it. And if the DVD burning kiosk should work, then they need to go down with the prices NOTICEABLE below the price of a DVD.

    my 2 eurocent.
    - Martin
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @08:22AM (#15465894) Journal
    I currently have a movie rental subscription. It costs £13/month, and gives me as many DVDs as I can watch, up to three at a time. This works out to about one a day. I would pay a similar amount, maybe a little more (say, £15) for the convenience of a service that offered:
    1. DVD-quality downloads. 1GB of H.264-encoded movie should give 'good enough' quality.
    2. No DRM; I often watch films on my laptop, and I occasionally watch them on a handheld device. Don't tie me to any particular platform.
    3. Any film or TV series that's been released on DVD.
    4. Up to 30 downloads a month.
    Sure, some people would archive everything they've downloaded, but would the industry lose much from that? I rarely watch a film more than two or three times, and so it wouldn't make much sense; particularly when you can just re-download any film you want.

    Of course, these films would also end up on peer to peer networks, but at that price it just wouldn't be worth my time and effort to get them illegally.

    I don't want any more DVDs. I own fifty or so movies on DVD, but I stopped buying new ones over a year ago. They are simply not worth the money; when I can rent close to thirty for the price of buying one it's only a good investment to buy if I plan on watching it more than thirty times[1].

    Sadly, I don't think the movie industry is likely to adopt such a model for quite some time.

    [1] The opposite is true for music. Looking through my iTunes library, the vast majority of tracks have a play count of 50-80, making music rental services a very bad financial choice for me.

  • by Kasis ( 918962 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @08:38AM (#15465940)
    I agree, I dislike having to wait five minutes for my passport photos to be developed, I wonder how long this would take exactly?? In my personal home kiosk, it takes anywhere from half an hour to several hours to download a movie, then another quarter of an hour to decompress and burn it. And it's free...

    If I'm standing in a retailers and I feel that a movie is worth paying for, I'll pick up a ready-pressed DVD from the shelf in a glossy box, pay for it and leave.

    What exactly is the benefit of this service? Yes I did rtfa but I still can't see any advantage.

  • Uh but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @08:45AM (#15465954)
    But "burned" DVDs have a limited life. They may only last a few years depending on the quality of the DVDs etc. Properly pressed DVDs last nearly forever. How happy will the consumers be when a few years down the track the DVDs stop working?

  • by thelamecamel ( 561865 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @08:46AM (#15465958)
    DVD is certainly having a negative impact on cinemagoing. There are certainly times when you want to go out and see a movie, but in many (most?) cases the difference between watching the movie at home or at a cinema is decreasing. Therefore more people are buying DVDs, and fewer people are going to cinemas.

    Whenever I go to a cinema (unfortunately rarely these days), I am subjected to trailers which often show me really cool movies that I then want to go to see. So if I go to one movie, chances are I'll go to a few more in the next few weeks. I'm sure that i'm not alone here (and the advertising industry hopes i'm not too!)

    But there aren't compulsory trailers on DVDs (and if there were i would get very pissed off and boycott the DVDs concerned), and so audiences aren't exposed to future movies that they might like. So they are then less likely to continue seeing as many more movies.

    How can the movie industry fix this? More, better advertising on TV perhaps. More trailers on DVDs (though if you make these unskippable you WILL piss people off and they'll rent less DVDs because of the annoyance). But the best strategy, if it is possible, is to entice the public back to watching movies at the cinema, probably by lowering prices. Then they'll want to keep seeing more movies at the cinema if the movie's good enough, or otherwise on DVD.
  • by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @09:45AM (#15466142) Journal

    The motion picture industry's line of thinking (if it can be called that) probably ran something like this:

    • Problem: People aren't paying for movies, either to see them in the theaters or for DVDs.
    • Observation: There are honest people out there that will pay for the media, as well as people who are almost ready to do so if only it were more convenient.
    • Solution: Make it more convenient. If people go see the movie and like it, they can buy a freshly burned copy in the lobby afterwards and take the experience home with them.

    I'll agree, the idea is an interesting one. And if circumstances were different, I could see it taking off. There are already bands which record the concert live and then sell CDs after the concert. That seems to work fairly well. So yes, there could have been a chance for this model. (I did say that this would be a brief, feeble defense, yes?)

    Now, where does this idea really fall flat? Well, the problem as stated is pretty much accurate. (It's solely their problem, but technically, to them, it is a problem.) Although, parsed through the lens of objectivity their problem actually reads, "People aren't paying enough for our movies." Meaning that making money hand-over-fist isn't enough for them, they want to make more money, both hands over three fists, damnit.

    The observation is also correct: if the need is great enough and the item is unique enough, there will be someone honest enough to pay nearly any price. (As a corollary, there will also be someone crooked enough to never pay for the thing if there's any chance at all of getting it cheaper or for free elsewhere.) The sales rate to product going out may approach, but will never reach, either 0% or 100%.

    I see the biggest problem in the solution, because they're providing a convenient sales mechanism for people who are already using this other sales mechanism, both of which are tanking in the marketplace! If the problem is people not buying DVDs or going to see movies, tying the two of them together is silly! It's like trying to build a flying machine by tying two bricks together.

    I could also launch into a diatribe on the cost/benefit analysis of piracy vs. purchasing, but this isn't the place.

  • numbers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @09:56AM (#15466183) Homepage Journal
    this is just my subjective impression, but it appears that the sheer numbers of new movies seems to have gone up radically over the past decade or so. There are just so many movies that people want to watch I think, I know I dont care to see so many, certainly not all of them or even close to that. Seems like a long time ago, when a new "big" movie came out it was a relatively big deal, now its like every weekend there are a dozen (whatever) new movies. Same with bands and music for that matter.

    Like I said, subjective, I have no actual hard numbers to point at.

    As to the kiosks, I think it could be a fine way to do it if the movie plays in anything called a DVD player and if the discs are significantly cheaper than what you get now off the shelf. The main problem is disks need to be around three bucks, not 20 dollars.

    *snort* We bought some movies yesterday out weekend yard saling, I got VHS tapes three for a dollar. Thats about the only way I buy movies or music now, used and at a cheap reasonable price. At 20 bucks, I buy zero movies. Under ten dollars I start to think about it, bargain bin new 5 or under I grab a few if I feel like it.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Sunday June 04, 2006 @03:36PM (#15467881) Journal
    About 10 years ago I had a customer who wanted to set up movie stores like this - they'd always have the current movies in stock, and they'd always have every movie that had ever been made. (They'd done a similar model with record stores, and had some fast digital-to-VHS burning technology.) The main catch was that you needed an OC3 network connection (155 Mbps) to be able to do 5-minute downloads, which was laughably unrealistic at the time, as opposed to today when it's only fairly unrealistic. Since this was before DVDs, they also had issues with the costs of data storage for movies they had cached - 500GB was still pretty big, though there were some digital tape technologies that might work if you had a robot, or you could copy videotapes if you didn't mind the quality hit.

    On-Demand downloads weren't very practical - but pre-loading movies as they're released works quite well, especially since that's what you're most likely to sell. A 1 Mbps network connection lets you download 75 GB a week, which is about 15 movies, depending on resolution, 2-disk-sets, etc. Hollywood seldom produces more than 10 movies a week, and Bollywood's pretty similar. (The pr0n industry produces a lot more.) So if you've got a cable modem or decent DSL connection, you can keep ahead of the mainstream movies and have some bandwidth available for CD-quality ad-hoc downloads. Network availability can be a problem - the obvious place to put DVD burner kiosks is in malls, but they often don't have cable, and they're usually far away from telco offices so DSL bandwidth is lower. On the other hand, grocery stores are usually in/near residential neighborhoods, so they've usually got cable nearby and often have decent DSL.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger