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[ EEPI-Discuss ] Movie Biz: The Permanent Slump?

Greetings.  It's certainly the case that for most of us, viewing a
film in a good theater is a totally different experience than the
distractions and interruptions of trying to watch a DVD at home (not
that many theaters don't have their own annoying distractions).  But
the encompassing viewing environment of a decent theater can provide
an impact that would be impossible to recreate for anyone who can't
afford a private screening room.

Watching movies in theaters has become relatively expensive, in
comparison to the technologically-available alternatives (e.g.
DVDs).  The price that people are willing to pay for even the best
theater experience is not infinitely elastic when they have other
ways, albeit usually inferior in significant respects, to view
films.  The barrage of commercials in most theaters is salt in the

But I believe that the biggest factor by far is the "quality" of new
films being released.  They far too often -- and I'll use a technical
Hollywood term here -- suck.  We see an endless stream of idiotic
remakes and "reimaginings," most of which are simply unimaginative
and awful.  The high cost of production has caused the major studios
to cower in the corner of familiarity.  Yes, even films that are
totally original may fail -- we have recent examples of that, too --
but it's with original works that the salvation of the movie
business is to be found -- if it is to be found.

One interesting data point is the success of "revival" movie theaters
that pack in the patrons -- often at ticket prices similar to
first-run films -- to see big-screen prints of movies that have
been available on videotape or DVD for many years.  Here in
L.A., American Cinematheque ( http://www.americancinematheque.com/ )
is a prime and superb example that I frequently attend.

True, American Cinematheque is located in the heart of Hollywood
and the film industry, but revival film theaters also do well far
outside the confines of our company town.

Below is a reference to an article on this topic that appeared today,
originally from a recent "Nightline" segment.

Lauren Weinstein
lauren@pfir.org or lauren@vortex.com or lauren@www.eepi.org
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR 
  - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
Co-Founder, EEPI 
  - Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative - http://www.eepi.org
Moderator, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
DayThink: http://daythink.vortex.com

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   "There's been so much talk about the slump," Parkes added. "I think
    the question that is in everybody's mind is, 'Is this a temporary
    state of affairs that came about as the result of a number of
    pictures that didn't work, or are we looking at some kind of
    fundamental shift in the viewing patterns of the audience?' " 

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