According to a recent NY Times article, the movie industry is losing about 40 percent annually because of piracy. DVD sales last year were the lowest they have been in five years and movie studios are developing methods of offering new videos on demand.
As an ethical yet informed journalist, I know that some people (not me or anybody I know) watch entire new releases on-line because they’re free, convenient, it’s allows more interactivity and they won’t get caught, which are the same reasons people started sharing music. A few companies went bankrupt, lots of artists whined, but a few years passed and everyone’s pretty much happy again, especially all the freeloaders.
But will that happen with movies? For me, there is nothing like sitting in the middle row, middle seat of a huge, air conditioned theater waiting for Spielberg’s Optimus Prime to impress me or Will Smith’s muscles to put me in a daze.
It doesn’t matter that my shoes get stuck in theater scum or that a creepy guy behind me with the TB cough is behind me breathing like he just ran a marathon. I love going to the movie theater.
If people could watch new movies instantly on their TV or PC for the same price, that might be the end of summer blockbusters. The end of over-the-top, the Hulk is everywhere-you go merchandising. And my generation already goes on fewer dates than previous generations, so women would really be out of luck there.
People might not care as much about what they are watching, and coupled with the losses studios experience, the quality of the movies would definitely suffer. With CDs, the most noticeable thing that died was the idea of a concept album. Granted, many musicians are caring, hardworking and talented, but I think many forgot about the art part of being an artist. (Big up 808s and Heartbreak, I hate Kanye’s attitude but love that album). Maybe it seemed like people cared more about singles, so that’s all musicians tried to make, hit songs instead of classic records.
Unlike music, which is essentially an audible medium, movies have more at stake. Everything from the way they are made, how they are consumed, to what even constitutes a traditional movie could change drastically. I think I’m safe and will be able to escape into the big screen for now, but what will my third husband and I do on Saturday nights when I’m 50?
Just like with journalism, the question of how the media transformation will revolutionize Hollywood remains.
By the way, on a positive note, I can’t remember the last time a bootlegger scared me, banging on my window with two for $10 or 3 for $12.