I have had the pleasure of participating in two think tanks sessions with Michael Gubbins of the UK. He’s a fun and thoughtful advocate for the change that needs to occur in our industry, if we want to survive. As he points out today in his article in MovieScope “Face The Music”, ten years after the release of the iPod, has the film biz really learned anything from it’s sister, the music industry?
….film, where there has been a polarisation of the global blockbusters at one hand and ever-smaller art-house releases at the other. A fine film with critical acclaim can still struggle to find any traction in the market. The independent sector will struggle with the critical mass of sales to create a business model, and an on-demand world of easy access to the whole history of film at the push of a button looks likely to make life tougher—if not impossible—for a significant proportion of independent producers.
The ‘Experience’ Business
One of the ironies of this era of ubiquitous access has been the increased emphasis on those areas of the business that were supposed to be killed off by it. For music, the growth area has been live performance. Estimates suggest that easily the largest proportion of those who work in the music industry are working in festivals and concerts. It is also the area which is continuing to attract significant private equity, bringing impressive returns on investment.
Live is not a direct equivalent of theatrical; the cinema is tending to act in recent years as the marketing platform for the profit centres of DVD. But it does suggest that in a world of instant perfect copies available on demand, there is increased want for the exclusive and authentic. In music, this is not just about live performance, but about merchandising and memorabilia.
Film has some of these same opportunities, not just in cinema but in much of the under-exploited metadata of production that may have value to consumers. These rely on a direct relationship with audiences and the retention—or at least a bigger interest—in rights, particularly given that the European Commission seems increasingly against territorial rights and licensing based on national borders. It also suggests the need to reassess the windows of exploitation…
We need to work harder at our solutions. It is not going to come from a series of individual efforts, or even a national campaign. If we care about the culture of film, the studios need to support the independents, we need to embrace experimentation with business models, throw off the liability of legacy, and truly improve the experience for audiences. We need to become a real community and not just a bunch of different, somewhat related enterprises.
Read Michael’s full article here on MovieScope.