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by Ben Travers
March 24, 2014 5:59 PM
7 Comments
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Film vs. TV Battle Intensifies: Universal Exec Calls for Theater Owners to Invest in VOD

"Game of Thrones" HBO

"The DVD business is declining, and the home-viewing experience is being replaced by long-form serialized drama. It's a concern for us."

So said David Kosse, the president of Universal International, to foreign exhibitors Monday during his keynote address at CinemaCon's international day, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "We are ceding too much ground," he went on. "We are seeing a golden age of television. It unnerves me to say the least, particularly because there is some great serialized drama out there. I love 'Game of Thrones' and 'House of Cards.'"

Kosse lobbed for exhibitors to invest in VOD and digital space in order to stem the rush to the other, ever-growing entertainment medium of television. He said they would benefit from having a financial stake in the growing revenue from the home entertainment market. He also noted television has the advantages of being able to be seen wherever a viewer would like -- via the internet on their computer, phone, tablet, and internet-enabled TVs -- whereas films can only be seen at theaters (at first). 

It's important to note Kosse's company, Universal International, is owned by cable giant Comcast. Indiewire took note of the growing battle between TV and film during this year's SXSW, where television was given its own program within the film festival. While the expansion into a territory previously reserved for film was seen as a win for advertisers, there was concern over whether or not it was taking away opportunities for independent films to be seen and purchased for distribution.

Josh Hartnett in Showtime's horror series "Penny Dreadful."

Josh Hartnett, whose new Showtime program "Penny Dreadful" premiered at the festival, said "It's great to have a festival that's devoted to film entirely. I think there are still quite a few festivals that are devoted to film entirely. But the way people are viewing television and the way people are viewing film these days is changing, and it's not just necessarily about going to the theater and seeing it. The content is becoming content and not necessarily film or TV. Is it interesting content to go see? That's a question I think people are asking themselves when they're creating programs for the festivals like this."

Jonathan Lisco, the showrunner for AMC's upcoming drama "Halt and Catch Fire," also chimed in on the status of how television is seen within the industry. "[...]people who are really credible in our business, the people who are making episodic television and movies, are realizing a long-form feature for grown ups is the cable television show."

7 Comments

  • Indie Film Minute | March 26, 2014 10:01 AMReply

    We love great art no matter where it occurs. There is benefit to all concerned in the new quality serialized TV. It is a different medium and serves us very well when well done.

    The same is true for films. They are more incapsulated, so more dependent on perfection. Choices made have higher impact. Maybe that means it is a higher art? Don't know, Don't care. Both can be great.

    Finally let me say, there will never be a greater experience than viewing a great film in a quality theatre, where film is respected. Everything in that environment is designed to create the highest impact viewing experience. Long may they live . . .

  • Man | March 25, 2014 1:04 PMReply

    Wow. People in the comment section have more sense and solutions than that dickhead executive suit running a suit. It's simple, start making movies like they used to by focusing on the script, execution, acting and basically everything else except CGI, reduce CGI reliance and as one of the commentators suggest, cinema prices, and watch how Cinema regains its mojo and its throne from T.V. and all this Digital Distribution jingle as nothing can replace that Cinema going experience.

  • Man | March 25, 2014 1:05 PM

    Wow. People in the comment section have more sense and solutions than that dickhead executive suit running a STUDIO. It's simple, start making movies like they used to by focusing on the script, execution, acting and basically everything else except CGI, reduce CGI reliance and as one of the commentators suggest, cinema prices, and watch how Cinema regains its mojo and its throne from T.V. and all this Digital Distribution jingle as nothing can replace that Cinema going experience.

  • Ann | March 25, 2014 10:35 AMReply

    Competition here is good. Maybe the studios will try to produce better movies!

  • TVV | March 25, 2014 3:13 AMReply

    It's funny how when all you watch is hollywood films and FX and Hulu shows that such a tiny perspective is considered important in basing an argument that TV is more or less than film...I want to throw up and throw my computer at someone's head just reading such an insipid and undercooked headline. Does the laziness of the mass audience conclude a change in the status quo of artistic integrity? I can assure you that just because its easier to click once and see something on your computer it does not make that medium more important than a film which insists you to leave you house in order to watch.

    Any director worth their salt knows that the audience will allow stupidity to flourish, thus, you must not allow stupidity to overwhelm your story because as an artist you want to enlighten and to share and to entertain, and give something nourishing. Just because TV is episodic doesn't make it a better medium of storytelling, nor does it mean that the audience is being given anything special. They'll take what you give them. They, generally, don't know any better.

  • Vin | March 25, 2014 1:01 AMReply

    Funny how the one potential solution that's never mentioned is for the studios to make feature films that are as compelling as TV.

  • Luis Figueiredo | March 24, 2014 6:17 PMReply

    The thing here is that movie scripts are losing quality and the special effects are out of control. I'm a movie addict and there's nothing like going to one cinema to watch a movie and have a real emersive experience. Comedies and others like that, don't need special conditions. They can be either seen at home or on a smartphone, viewers will laugh anyway. What I'm expecting from the movie industry, is that they focus more one the script, the cast, the editting, the soundtrack, the costumes. These are the details that give us viewers a unique experience. Moulin Rouge ( That I consider a POP Movie) is not the same if you watch it on a DVD. You're not focused on the story, your cell is ringing, the wc is only a step away as pause. There are no more Bravehearts, no more American Beautys...
    I also follow many Tv shows. But the waiting kills me. How can a Tv Show have better scripts, actors, sets, soundtracks than a movie if it last longer?

    Reduce the prices in every Cinema and you'll see the difference.