Hollywood’s Nightmare- Mass Production

This is the kind of story that makes Hollywood movie execs cringe with fear:

In consumer electronics, as in much of life, good things happen to those who wait – good things as in plunging prices.

The cost of big-screen televisions, which have been steadily dropping by about 25 percent a year, are now expected to fall even more sharply this autumn, according to industry analysts. The coming markdowns reflect a singular confluence of business trends that will benefit consumers going into the holiday season.

“Prices are pretty much in a free fall,” said David Naranjo, who tracks the television industry for DisplaySearch, a market research firm.

The best evidence of this is the expectation of analysts that in the next few weeks the Panasonic unit of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company will announce that it is dropping prices as much as $500 on plasma-screen TV’s that retail for around $3,500.

Panasonic officials refused this week to confirm or deny the speculation, but because it sells the most plasma screens in the United States, a potential downward adjustment would be considered a harbinger of a price war for all varieties of big-screen TV’s.

Speaking as someone with my own widescreen HDTV, complete with a decent surround sound system, this is what Hollywood should fear- home theatres popping up all over the country. The only movie I have attended recently is Star Wars, partly because it was a cultural event, partly because my inner geek refused to stay home. Other than that, every other movie I have seen lately is at home after it has been released on DVD.

Add to a dying business the slim offerings from Hollywood, and you can see the problem. Literally. They need to change their business model, and the day of direct to dvd releases is soon approaching.

In other news, as if to reinforce my point, the number one movie in the nation is “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” which stars Comedy Central’s Steve Carell, and not, as I initially suspected, 2000 Presidential candidate Al Gore. Even though everyone ‘knows’ Al Gore is really quite enjoyable in person, of course.

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19 replies
  1. 1
    Don Surber says:

    Don’t they also have to compete with the tons of previous stuff out there?

  2. 2
    docG says:

    Now, John. How could anyone as “wooden” as Al Gore be a virgin? Personally, I thought the title referred to Rush Limbaugh (heterosexual virginity only).

  3. 3
    Stormy70 says:

    Steve Carrell is freaking funny, man. Still, I will wait for the DVD. I like to see the big movies on the screen, Star Wars (all hail the geeks!), LOTR, Potter and Narnia (finally!). Batman was a big screen movie, too. My local theater is new, and clean, and the people attending have manners. And the prices are still $5.50 for an evening show. Most movies are better watched at home, where you can pause and go get a decent snack. Plus, being able to lay down on the couch while watching a good movie can never be underestimated.

    I will now expose myself as a pathetic B-movie goer. I will go see this on the big screen, The Cave.
    This type of movie qualifies as a theater movie in my world. Yes, I saw Pitch Black and Deep Blue Sea at the movies, too. Come on, space monsters and genetically altered sharks? Awesome. I also liked Alien vs. Predator. {hangs head in abject shame}

  4. 4
    Walker says:

    I used to like to go to movies. But years in Dallas (the Rudeness capital of the world) has cured me of that. Today, the theater experience is truely awful.

    The growth of home theaters has lead to a disolution of social graces where everyone treats the movie theater like their living room. They talk at normal conversational level with their friends, and at the movie itself. And this is not just teenagers. I have frequently had to tell senior citizens in the art house theaters to please shut up. But now so many people are talking in the theater that it is not even worth the bother.

    The problem with the teenagers is that they always put their feet up on the chairs. Now, before you think I am overly prim and proper here, consider the following: the chairs in a single row are attached to each other. When someone puts up their feet on a chair, and then pulls them off again, the shockwave goes up and down the entire row. The “kickers”, as I call them, are even more distracting than the talkers. And these days they have the audacity to put their feet up on the empty seat next to you.

    Finally, their are the numerous families that want to see a rated R film and take their young kids with them. The kids obviously don’t want to see the film and run up and down the theater during the entire movie. Or the teenagers, who deciding they really did not want to see the movie after all run back and forth about the theater to socialize with their friends.

    And what happens whenever I complain about this to the management? They refund my money but do nothing about the problem. God, how I hate going to the movies now.

  5. 5
    Tim F says:

    I wouldn’t get too triumphalist about the death of Hollywood just yet. Domestic ticket sales account for a fraction of most films’ gross revenues, with the remainder coming from international runs (where home theaters aren’t nearly as common) and DVD sales. For a big-ticket film the US theater run basically serves as a marketing campaign for the DVD.

  6. 6
    Mr.Ortiz says:

    I saw the 40 Year Old Virgin last night and it was worth the price of admission, which is a pretty high bar at $10.75 in Manhattan. Continuing Walker’s theme, though, it was almost ruined before it even started. A row near the front of the theater had only 4 seats in it, and a young couple decided to take the middle two, leaving two seats stranded on either end. This was already a prickish move at a sold-out show given that hardly anyone goes to the movies alone, but when my friend and I asked them to move over one seat, they acted like WE were the ones who were rude just for asking. They did move, and we did sit, but I was so mad I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the movie. Luckily, the Serenity trailer came on and filled my heart with joy once more.

  7. 7
    Pug says:

    As one who has still not bought a wide-screen TV and is building a new house, this is the best damn news I’ve seen in a while.

    I might buy three.

  8. 8
    Kimmitt says:

    Hollywood’s fine; movie theaters are going to have problems.

  9. 9
    Mark says:

    Kimmitt is right, Hollywood will survive just fine. Just think – who gets all the money from the DVD sales anyway?

  10. 10
    Moe Lane says:

    I’d have to agree: IIRC, Hollywood makes a hella lot more money off of DVD sales then from domestic theater runs. ‘Course, I seem to remember (although not from where: Slate, maybe?) that a direct-to-DVD model had bad long-term effects on the Hong Kong movie industry, so Hollywood may not be wise to keep up with existing trends.

  11. 11
    Don Surber says:

    “docG Says:

    “Now, John. How could anyone as “wooden” as Al Gore be a virgin? Personally, I thought the title referred to Rush Limbaugh (heterosexual virginity only).”

    Thanks for reminding me: Gotta work on that Homophobic Liberals post

  12. 12
    Bud Parsons says:

    I go out to the movies maybe once a year and only because I have a small child who likes to see the Pixar type films on the big screen. Most movies are poorly made retreads of things of seen 100 times before. The best of the lot is usually in the small independent genera but I’m not going to pay $30 with popcorn to see them.

    Hollywood needs to wake up. They can no longer afford to pay “alleged” stars 10s of millions of dollars and take a huge profitability gamble when the average film will survive in the theatre for no more than 3 weeks at best.

    I must admit that I love seeing Hollywood squirm. I despise most of the Hollywood elite. PLEASE JOIN ME IN BOYCOTTING TOM CRUISE, THE KING OF CULTS, by not seeing a single picture that he is involved acting in or producing.

  13. 13
    hadenoughofthisyet says:

    This is good news. I’ve been waiting for the prices to come down.

    I haven’t been to the theater in a good 8 or 9 years. The last time was for my son’s birthday — with a gaggle of pre-teen boys — to watch a Jim Carrey movie. That cured me for good.

  14. 14
    docG says:

    Don Surber Says:

    “docG Says:

    “Now, John. How could anyone as “wooden” as Al Gore be a virgin? Personally, I thought the title referred to Rush Limbaugh (heterosexual virginity only).”

    Thanks for reminding me: Gotta work on that Homophobic Liberals post

    Well, now I AM insulted. Liberal, indeed!

  15. 15
    Dave Schuler says:

    What Hollywood really has to fear is Roberto Rodriguez and BitTorrent. Rodriguez did the editing and most of the effects work on the Spy Kids picture (and, I presume, Sin City) in his garage with equipment you can buy off-the-shelf. If Rodriguez can do it there are probably 1,000 others who can do it, too. No name stars? No big deal—Star Wars (the original pic) had no name stars save Alec Guinness. Did pretty well IIRC. That challenges Hollywood at the production end.

    BitTorrent challenges Hollywood at the distribution end—Hollywood’s real stranglehold on video entertainment. The two together are a one-two punch that should start putting downward pressure on costs, salaries, etc.

  16. 16
    andy says:

    We also watch all of our movies on DVD in our home theater (widescreen HDTV with 5.1 surround).

    We can pay Netflix $20 a month and watch maybe 10-15 movies, or we can go out to one movie ($15 or so for two tickets), $5 for parking, $21 for a babysitter for 3 hours… you get the idea.

  17. 17
    Bugboy says:

    I went to see the latest SW movie myself, with my 2 kids. We had the place to ourselves…LITERALLY! But, the theatre smelled like an old bowling alley, the floor was sticky, and the screen had a smudge on it. More often than not I go to the movies and in addition to the above, there’s some yahoo with a cell phone or a screaming baby.

    Theatres will be the death of Hollywood, if anything. But seeing that the home entertainment divisions of the studios are making up the difference, does it really matter?

  18. 18
    goonie bird says:

    I have,nt gone to a movie in a few years i mean the movies are just so crappy and they have spent too much time remaking old classics like AROUND TTHE WORLD IN 80 DAYS,WAR OF THE WORLDS,WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and doing a poor job at it to

  19. 19
    DougJ says:

    The best of the lot is usually in the small independent genera but I’m not going to pay $30 with popcorn to see them.

    Call me old-fashioned, but 30 dollars is WAY TOO MUCH to pay for popcorn. Excuse me for being assumptious, but you live in New York or LA?

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