How much would you pay for an Internet cinema ticket?

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This isn’t an Internet cinema ticket, but we all have imaginations.

Regardless of what you thought of the film A Field in England, it did something extraordinary on its release; it was put out at cinemas, on DVD, on various VOD services, and played on terrestrial TV on the same day, all of which cost different amounts to watch, some of them being for free (SHOCK!).

Being not a tech dinosaur, I absolutely loved this because, as we all become more savvy to technology, we are becoming curators of how we consume our content; I rented the movie from iTunes and watched it on my flight to San Francisco…yes, I paid when I could have watched it for free on the TV a week earlier. No longer are we passive in media consumption; we have DVRs; we create playlists of tracks from different albums on services that offer pay monthly models; we save articles from different news sources to read later; we are members of streaming services that offer myriad films of all genres for less than a ticket to the cinema per month. And the amount of screens we have in our lives are increasing; here in the UK, 12m adults over the age of 18 own a tablet, which is almost 30% of the adult population. While all this innovation is happening in technology and media distribution, most movie studios, their distributors and subsequent big cinema chains, bar the absolute minority, are woefully behind the times. I say most because there are a few cinemas that have seen the shift in mass market media consumption and are now offering Home Cinema passes for individual films; http://www.curzoncinemas.com/film_on_demand/.

At Curzon, they aren’t offering Category A releases (your blockbusters, ‘director’ releases, etc), but some of them aren’t available on VOD yet, which is great…until you see the price. £10.00 ($16.00), I think, is a high price to pay to watch a new movie from the comfort of your own home. Let’s list a few of the reasons for this being too high;

  • Joe Public doesn’t have a digital projector and a 50 foot screen, onto which they can project a 4k version of the film, in their living rooms
  • No one has a cinema standard sound system in the same living rooms
  • I am sure a large number of people would be renting on a laptop, an iPhone or iPad, any other tablet, etc, which is not the most engaging way to watch a movie, but we all still do it
  • The whole point of charging a premium at the cinema is because there are other amenities, such as food halls, shops, pubs, etc, in the area, out of which you can make a Friday night

Truth be told, if the movie was a new release, such as the up-and-coming JGL movie, Don Jon, I would probably pay £10 and watch it at home because most cinema audiences are quite annoying, but that’s besides the point. If studios want to move with the times and be seen as innovators of their product, asking people to pay exorbitant rates does more harm than good from the outset. Personally, and we are talking ballpark here, £5 is a massively reasonable number to pay for home cinema release of a new movie. Obviously, this would be alongside a wide cinema release, where you pay normal rates; people will still go to the cinema for exactly the reasons discussed above. I don’t think the skeletons that run Hollywood have the guts to change their legacy economic models, which means they will undoubtedly make up their margins by charging a small fortune, but this is not how it should be done. If they are going to develop home cinema releasing, they should take a risk and treat a new movie release like a premium rental on VOD! Let’s face it, if someone falls in love with a movie, they will always pay for it in the end (I have three copies of Shaun of the Dead!).

So, how much do you think a home cinema ticket should be? Do you think it would harm multiplex cinema chains? Do you care if it does harm multiplex cinemas as long as movies are still economically viable and keep being made? Do you think the film industry needs to move with the times and start catering for their audiences’ needs rather than those of the banks?

Happy Monday, everyone! And if you’re in the UK stay safe and out of the storm!

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