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Old May 1st, 2005, 07:17 PM   #1
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Steven Soderbergh bites the hand that feeds him!

This is great! But, I hope he knows that theater chains will hate him from now until Kingdom Come. It was bound to happen, but he's playing with fire.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory?id=719180

http://p2pnet.net/story/4701

p2p too? This is going to be VERY, VERY interesting......

This will definately change the world of distribution...if it takes over and production companies start doing this then all outlets are fair game.

It's good for the studios...no more "Opening Weekend" losses on the grand scale. They can make up the revenue elsewhere immediately.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 08:00 PM   #2
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That's interesting. So the main reason to do it that way is to get more revenue up front?

I feel a little bad for the theatres, but they really do have to come up with a different model. It costs $40 for two people to go and fully enjoy a movie. That takes a lot of the enjoyment out of going to the movies.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 08:22 PM   #3
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This sounds promising to me. I agree with Soderberg that the current model is not only outdated but inefficient as well. I can't even remember the last time I went to a movie in the theaters.

I also believe that Apple is gearing up for online releases. The H.264 codec is incredibly efficient. I encoded a movie using it the other night and it was 216K. I thought I ahd screwed up and made a reference movie by mistake. The same clip using MPEG4 compression was 1.5mb. Ican't remeber the length, somewhere around 30 seconds I think, but I was pretty impressed with the results.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:36 PM   #4
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What's inefficient about movie distribution is distributing film---there's a lot of silver in those reels. Deliver the movie over a wire or on a hard drive and you're back in the game of profits.

What theaters sell is a communal experience that DVDs and t.v. can't duplicate. Soderbergh's forays into alternate forms of distribution won't make too much of a dent in the mass-audience trade.

The internet's where distribution's headed. The only problems are technical (bandwidth and security). Theaters will be like big, hi-def t.v. halls ... and audience will flock to them as they have for more than a century, for the same reasons live theater has been viable for millennia.

If you've ever seen a Star Wars movie in a press screening, with reporters scribbling silently in the dark and no laughter or cheers, you know what I mean.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Sandel
...there's a lot of silver in those reels.
How much? $1? $10? $100? I tried some searching but couldn't find anything readily Googled about the celluloid release print silver content. (To be honest I always thought that silver halides were only found in film stock and that release prints used only dyes.) If it was really significant one would think there would be more extensive reclamation efforts, higher theft rate, etc.

Prints are expensive but the physical cost of distribution is hardly the determining factor for profitability in a film's release. For nearly all releases the cost of advertising is many hundreds of times the cost of striking and shipping prints.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 07:12 AM   #6
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Theater chains are in trouble bigtime right now. There are to many things competing for people's time.

The moment I realized they were in such trouble? Loews has this huge ad campaign for "Mothers and their Children"! During the week they're trying to get moms and their kids into the theater...what a miserable experience if that actually works! Can you imagine 100's of screaming brats in a theater? I get really antsy and actually yell at ADULTS talking during a movie. Of course, the rationale is...mothers are in the same boat. However, what sort of mother would bring her kid to a movie with other moms and kids? Is that some type of self-torture? What mother is actually going to enjoy the movie??

So, I know for a fact the theaters are dying right now. I think that the new things they're doing with running live football games and things like that are innovative. But, that's a bandaid. They need to upgrade their projection systems across the board to 100% digital. Also, they need to embrace 3D, super high def technologies and whatever else will seperate them from the home videophile. It's the dawn of a new age...home users are just as savvy as theater owers. Who wants to sit there watching a movie that stinks when you can get it perfect at home?
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 07:16 AM   #7
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A movie print cost, on average, $1500.00 a pop. No small change when you consider the fact that a wide release means 2000 plus screens. On the flip side, and as was mentioned, people go to the movies to have a communial experience...something that modern civilizations lack greatly (outside of expensive sports outings) and something that home viewings can never give either.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 08:34 AM   #8
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Christopher,

I wouldn't call going 100% digital projection an "upgrade". If the movie was shot on film, it was meant to be see on film, as in light passing through film, which cannot be replicated digitally, or at least not with today's digital projectors. Movie theaters are still vastly ahead of the home viewer precisely because they are showing FILM, and not video, on an enormous screen which entirely engulfs you, and with a crowd, which has its own benefits. Changing over to super high definition (with its lower resolution and video properties) would surely place theaters much closer to the average consumer than film does!

Movie tickets might be pretty expensive now, but the movie theaters aren't the only ones to blame. The blockbuster culture, the opening weekend frenzy, the whole climate of what movies are getting produced and how they are marketed creates this price. If so much media attention wasn't put on how much money movies make in their opening weekends (and if they top $100 million GROSS), then we might not be in the same situation.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 08:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Guy
Christopher,

I wouldn't call going 100% digital projection an "upgrade". If the movie was shot on film, it was meant to be see on film, as in light passing through film, which cannot be replicated digitally, or at least not with today's digital projectors. Movie theaters are still vastly ahead of the home viewer precisely because they are showing FILM, and not video, on an enormous screen which entirely engulfs you, and with a crowd, which has its own benefits. Changing over to super high definition (with its lower resolution and video properties) would surely place theaters much closer to the average consumer than film does!
I SO disagree. Movie prints look HORRIBLE in the average movie theater to me. They're often dim, scratchy, out of focus, and or out of frame. And people often forget that the raw resolution of film never sees the light of day once it goes through its many cycles and ends up on the big screen.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 08:57 AM   #10
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If the print looks dim, it's often because the theater has turned down the projector bulb, in the belief that this will increase its lifespan. Tell them to turn it up! If it is out of focus, tell them to focus! If it is out of frame, tell them to fix it! If it's scratchy, well, then I guess you are just stuck with it.

The point is that film is film, and video is video. Film should be seen projected, as it was intended to be seen. When we watch a "film" at home on a DVD, it is a compromise, which is made for convenience and educational purposes. But it's not the same as seeing it projected! And blurring those lines is helpful to no one. In this world which is increasingly taken over by DVD, on-demand, internet downloads (who wants to watch a movie on a computer screen!), I think that movie theaters are still refreshingly pure, and I hope they stay that way for as long as possible. If I have to pay $3 more to watch film projected, then I'll gladly pay the $3 and see the FILM the way it was intended to be seen. Just as when movies are shot digitally, I expect to see them projected that way.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 09:05 AM   #11
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Joel, the theaters going digital is an upgrade. You obviously haven't worked as a projectionist. The film is handled in a way that degrades it every single time it's shown - not to mention it breaks, tears, and scratches every single time it's handled. There are on average of 10 reels per movie and each reel is about 10 minutes...some kid or drunk guy is taking the reels off and throwing them on a rewinder which is damaging the reel. Not to mention the finger prints on about 10% of every single frame on a film. If the theater has a platter system it doesn't matter...the films come in on 10 reels and have to be spliced together. They are all touched by human hands before it every is shown to the audience. It's appalling really when you consider the care up to the last moment it's send out from the studios. The theaters are at least 80 years behind - literally, they have not upgraded the way films are shown in 80 years. You want to tell me that digital isn't an upgrade? Go into any theater and ask to sit with the projectionist for one movie viewing and you will probably throw up. It's sickening to watch the film go through a projector. Also, the light used on a lot of projection systems is a welding arc...it stinks. Someone is standing there adjusting the light constantly adjusting two welding rods to whatever lighting they like...no standard light amount, just whatever they feel like doing. If you sit there and really watch a movie in the theater and pay attention to the screen...you'll see the light going all over the place it's horrible. Also, every single time the reels change it's the projectionist who's looking for a single little dot (cigerette burn in the right hand corner of every single reel!). They look for that burn mark and start the new reel whenever they feel like it!!! It's insane in 2005 for 80 million dollar movies to be projected this way.

I could go on and on about it, but I've done it and recently too. I did it for a learning experience and boy...I truly understand why filmmakers and studios HATE projection systems. It's the worst link in the chain because like I said..some kid or some drunk guy is in charge of very major things regarding your movie.

Here's the # reason projection SUCKS. Ready for this? Independent theater owners EDIT...and I mean, CUT out up to 10 minutes of movies and you don't know aboug it. They get the projectionist to trim bits and pieces from the movie just to save some time, so they can get movies back on the screen sooner and/or close up early. It's totally true and a fact...I've seen it done in front of my eyes. Let me ask you...have you ever seen a movie in the theater and for some reason things didn't make much sense? Then you rent the movie about 6 months later and you think, "I don't remember that scene? Weird". No, it's not always a directors cut...it's the theater owners cut!! It happens all over the place because "time is money". They do it because they can and it saves them money. Does the public care or know about it? No, because people are stupid and go with the flow. I personally hate it.

There is good reason studios and filmmakers hate theater owners. It's a situation where the theater owners can totally screw with the studios in so many ways and the studios can't do anything about it. Except, they can work towards educating the public and that's exactly what they are doing now. They are making it clear that theaters need to "upgrade" to a system that's "secure" - it's not so much the public the studios care about...it's the theaters!! Yes, pirates are a concern...but, theater owners are the ones letting the pirates into the theater right? What about what the theater owners do to the films? The studios have their hands tied because theaters have the upper hand bigtime.

If studios and Steven Soderbergh keep pushing it'll force the theater owners to do business in a more systematic way. Right now, it's so crazy the way it's done that the studios have no choice but to live with it. Once things get "upgraded" I'm sure things will improve across the board.

I know you are talking about resolution, but I've seen the latest digital projection systems and the average public won't know the difference because the digital "prints" are made and projected at such high rez. Yes, film projection is higher rez. However, there are many factors that you must look at....how far is the screen from the projection booth? How large is the screen? What type of digital projection is it? What is the source material?

It's a complicated matter and it's not there just yet, soon...just not yet. All I know is that digital projection is the solution to a lot of problems....not just one (rez).

That's the longest post I've ever written..whew!
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 12:45 PM   #12
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"What theaters sell is a communal experience that DVDs and t.v. can't duplicate. Soderbergh's forays into alternate forms of distribution won't make too much of a dent in the mass-audience trade."

I agree, although what I think it will do is increase the sales and rentals on those DVDs and in the other areas of distribution he and Cuban are proposing.

Imagine the amount of advertising and marketing costs that a company will save, not having to repeat themselves. In the end, they may not actually 'save' dollars, but every dollar they spend promoting the film will be much more effective.

Right now, a movie is pushed hard right before the theatrical release...then a few months later they have to push it again when they put it out on DVD, trying to get people excited about the same movie a second time.

With this plan, DVD, PayPerView, and p2p will ride the same marketing wave that the theatrical release gets. When you see a trailer in the theater, it will serve also as an ad for the DVD release. Every commercial and print ad will serve to push the movie in every possible distribution format. So, instead of pushing one specific format and then going back and trying to use a fraction of the original marketing budget to push the same product a second time on a new format...now they can focus all the advertising on the movie itself, and let you choose your format (ie. theatrical, dvd, payperview, etc).

They definitely are not stupid.
It's more cost effective for them to do it this way, and I wouldn't be suprised to see the DVD sales increase as rental houses stock the latest "New Release," and people order these movies on Payperview at their leisure.

Brilliant idea.
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 01:27 PM   #13
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Let Me Tell You Why I Am In Soderbergh's Court

More often than not, I am sick and tired of trying to enjoy a movie when you have fatmouths running their traps the whole time, talking on their cell phones or bringing in crying infants. Those instances have taken the enjoyment away from seeing a movie. It just seems like people today are less socially graced than, say, twenty years ago?

Heck, nowadays, just try and tell a fellow movie patron to keep quiet. What you're likely to get is some sort of retaliatory gesture/action on his/her behalf. I forsee "theatre rage" increasing just like "road rage."
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Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:18 PM   #14
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Having never seen a digitally displayed feature in a theater, I fear the loss of blackness.
As I understand it a digital projection will have a constant brightness, vs film's momentary blackness. I do believe the "flicker" creates a dreamstate for the audience that a continual image could destroy.

I'm sure it'd be easy to introduce a flicker - and I hope this will be done.

About the cost of going to the movies - don't forget that most distribution contracts split the ticket sales between house and distributor (especially after the first weekend). Concessions generally stay with the house.
So in a very real sense, more than half the cost of movie going is not due to the film distributors, but the film exhibitors.

As for Soderberg's plan - IMHO, I'm sure the theatrical distribution, whatever that may actually be, will be horrible. Also, the DVD sales will stink too.
The Satellite and Pay-per-view will be average.
(ed).The bitTorrent distribution will be HUGE!
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Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:40 AM   #15
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A producer friend of mine who once did an internship at a lab in Paris had this to say about silver in film prints. I hope someone with knowledge of the laboratory process will be able to amend his comments.
Quote:
Well a print shouldn't have any silver left when ready to show unless it was skipped-bleach to give it a desaturated/metalic look. But to do that on all your prints would be pretty expensive. Done for a premiere print maybe. But for general release print they'll try and do the skip bleach in the intermediate process (inter-positive or inter-neg). Overall a print must not be worth much in silver especially after processing. And unprocessed... well... say you have 90 minutes... so about 8100 feet... The stock being worth around $0.50 per foot... but must not cost more than $0.20 [in materials] and little of that is for silver. I know that labs do get the silver back but it's not worth much unless the lab processes a lot of film. But labs do get it back. (Skip bleach is the bath that takes out all the unexposed silver halides that were taken out in previous bath.) Now a black and white print has more silver in it because the silver makes the black. In color you have colopator dyes that get activated and the silver is washed.
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