AfterDawn: Tech news

Why MPAA is so scared?

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 24 Jul 2000 9:13

Answer is actually pretty simple when you think about it. Think how movie distribution works in these days. Big movie studios get their money from the movies in a looooong cycle, deciding the format people are using and when they're using certain format.
When a movie is launched, it comes to American movie theaters first. Next step is to launch the movie (if it succeeded in U.S. markets) in Europe and in selected other countries - in theaters again.

After the movies are rolling in theater distribution, we just have to wait for the next cycle. Few months later, those movies start showing in U.S. pay-per-view channels. Not a major money-machine, this phase. But expected to grow when Internet and TV merge more closely.

Third phase is the DVD and VHS launch. Nowadays, rental and retail video versions are out appx. at the same time. This is a great time to make the big money, even if the movie was a flop in theater distribution phase. Now it's been 12-24 months since movie hit the big screen.

And the fourth and fifth phase are normally launched at the same time. Some big pay-tv channel, maybe HBO, gets the rights for cable distribution. And at the same time, studios get the last retail money from collectors, who want their "Collector Edition" DVDs -- even that they already bought the original DVD version. This special edition normally adds some special features, such as "this is how Mr. X.X.'s super-sounding farting was added in the last scene" -- total rip-off in most of the cases.

And then, the movie comes in European TV distribution (Canal+ or some other pay channel) and for American network distribution (Fox, ABC, etc..). And it's been years ago since the film was originally made.. Big money.

Now, studios have a slight problem with DivX ;-) and VCDs. VideoCD is old story for them, they actually don't care about VCDs that much, because the quality of the picture is pretty poor. Anyway, as some of you know, most of the movies are available in VCD on the very same week when they arrived in your local American movie theatre. Sometimes the quality is really poor ('cam' copy) or sometimes is pretty decent ('screener').

But the thing that studios are so freaked is the DVD release. This phase is really making a big percent of their total movie sales nowadays - picture is clear, sounds are awesome, etc.. DivX ;-) is a good format, but it doesn't compare to DVDs. But still, they know that they have to fight back now, because there might come some next-generation method pretty soon that allows people to maintain DVD quality and that can be burned on CD easily.. And when the movie pirates finally start getting this quality 'screeners' right after the movie theater release -- who's gonna buy the DVD version anymore?

I hope that the studios understand this finally. Delaying the releases to make triple-profit per customer is a total rip-off. But allowing us to choose the format on the very same moment when the movie is released -- that's something that prevents piracy to happen. I personally watch VCDs only because I get the movies months earlier than waiting the DVD release. And for me -- watching the movie in a theater is almost impossible (I have my 12months old reason for that :-) -- so, if I want to know what people are watching and discussing about right now, I want to watch that movie right away and not to wait year or so..

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