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The future of the movie biz

January 26, 2009

One-by-one the future of the titans of the media industry is being called into question.

Post Sundance, Ty Burr, of the Boston Globe, put together a nice summary of the proceedings in Park City and ended his piece with a troubling conclusion for those in the business.

“Everyone agrees that the standard models of indie theatrical
distribution and exhibition are broken; everyone at Sundance and in the
industry is grappling with how best to replace them.

Some are
even sure they have answers. Consultant and panelist Peter Broderick
touted a brave new world of “hybrid distribution,” controlled directly
by the filmmaker that combines website direct sales, video on demand,
Internet and TV deals, cellphone distribution – and, yes, a theatrical
release when and if necessary. Much of this is already in place,
Broderick pointed out, and, in some cases, has proven successful. What
look like microprofits to a studio can be extremely macro to an
independent director.

The most unsettling thought, though – the
real game-changer – is that the movie theater audience may have gone
away for good. Said panelist Mark Gill, head of the independent
production company the Film Department, “My son doesn’t care what
format [a movie] comes in. He cares how fast he can get it and if it
can come to where he is.”

That may be the hardest lesson to take
in at the close of Sundance 2009: That everything learned in the past
quarter-century means absolutely nothing going forward.”

Posted by Ed Cotton

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