Mark Cuban analyzes the dip in box office revenues...
"[O]n any given night, for whatever category you feel like putting yourself into for that night, you only have 3 or 4 major movies, and unless you live in NY or LA, only 6 or so limited release movies to choose from. Is that enough to always have something that the full range of movie going public wants to see?"
He's right there. But wrong, I think, when he says that most people really still feel a powerful drive to go out to the movies.
"Going to the theater is something that will never be replicated at home," Cuban writes.
But a lot of people prefer the home viewing environment, where they choose their fellow audience members, talking is allowed, the food is better and cheaper, and movies can be put on pause.
He quotes a Jack Valenti speech to theater owners: "What you offer consumers is an epic viewing experience and an alluring social adventure they cannot duplicate in their homes – stadium seating, huge screens ripe with luminance, the sensuality of digital sound, unknown but enthusiastic companions of a single night – all responding to the skills of cinema artists who can make you laugh or cry or hold you in suspense. Even if families in the future are equipped with the latest home-theater magic, it’s just not the same as the emotional alchemy in a theater.”
Um, how many of you have experienced that emotional alchemy recently? For me, the "unknown but enthusiastic companions" Valenti refers to are typically toddlers kicking the back of my seat, or teenagers talking on their cell phones through the previews.
Theater owners will have to work to create the kind of unique environment that truly can't be duplicated in the home. Imax 3-D for instance. Or the kinds of seat-rumbling experiences, laced with lasers and smoke and in-theater odors, that are created at Universal and Disney theme parks.
Cuban's whole post, though, is closer to the bull's-eye than anything else I've read recently on digital distribution and exhibition. As usual.