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Monday, December 26, 2005

Hollywood woes...the future of cinema in China

- Looking back at 2005, John Horn of the LA Times says that 'Hollywood should rewrite own script'. Horn writes:

    Scarcely self-critical by nature, studio executives, producers and agents understandably turned a lot more reflective as the year wore on. The questions were not trivial. Is the film business in trouble? Or was 2005 simply an anomalous, cyclical year? Will the same formulas work in the future? Or does Hollywood need to reboot its creative and business hard drives?

    As Nietzsche once wrote, "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" — or at least Hollywood hopes that's the case, as it tries to adapt to a new world.

Horn says there are ten lessons that could be learned from what happened in 05, including one about technology: "The medium is everything." He writes:

    The next generation of movie fans may avoid the multiplex and take in the latest releases on their iPods, wi-fi laptops, Xboxes or Bluetooth cellphones, devices that often can provide a better entertainment value than many movie theaters. Some future films may enjoy video-on-demand or direct-to-DVD premieres. "We're very realistic about what's happening in our marketplace," says Donna Langley, Universal's production president. "We're making a conscious effort not to have our head stuck in the sand and educate ourselves as much as we can." One company — 2929 Productions — plans to release Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble" next month simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, via pay cable television and on satellite TV. If other Hollywood companies stick to their century-old distribution model, they may find themselves in the same league as the music business, which dawdled before embracing change.

- Variety has a piece titled, `Who's on top? H'w'd vexed by vid as tentpoles fade in DVD while mid-level movies soar'.

The story suggests that some of the biggest theatrical hits may not be raking it in like they once did, when they're released on DVD. There's also some interesting data about how the audience feels about release windows:

    One Nielsen EDI study on changing moviegoing habits, obtained by Variety through a studio source, asked moviegoers if they'd be more likely to see movies in theaters if they had to wait six months for the DVD compared to the average of four months now.

    The results found that while 41% of people who are already the most frequent theater attendees would be more inclined to see pics in theaters, 76% of the least frequent attendees would still wait for the DVD.

    J.P. Morgan analysts last month issued a report suggesting studios would actually make more money overall if they released films simultaneously in theaters and on DVD. While collapsing the window would reduce box office receipts by 49%, the bankers said they would expect a 76% increase in DVD revenues would lead to an overall 36% increase in studio revenues, from $14.9 billion to $20.2 billion per year.

- Finally, the People's Daily Online reports that Warner Brothers is planning to build a digital cinema in Beijing by next summer - and 170 by 2007. The article says:

    The new cinema, to be located in Beijing's "silica valley" -- the Zhongguancun district, will have seven digital projection halls with 1,100 seats, said the official.

    According to the official, the new cinema in Beijing was jointly invested by Warner Brothers and the Guangzhou-Based Quanyi firm company.

    Currently, Warner Brothers has opened eight digital cinemas in major Chinese cities like Shanghai and Nanjing.


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