[ Digital cinema, democratization, and other trends remaking the movies ]

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Linkage: Amazon movie downloads...JC Cam...Cloning stars...Digital cinema releases

- Today's Wall Street Journal says that has been in discussions with Paramount, Warner Bros, and Universal about selling their movies as digital downloads. Jeff Bezos says that digital media is important to the company, and they're apparently hiring like crazy. From the Journal piece:

    Amazon executives, led by Bill Carr, vice president in the digital media group, approached the studios about a year ago on this issue, the people familiar with the situation say. At the time, DVD sales were still strong, and the studios felt no need to rush into an alliance with Amazon. But in recent months, the landscape has shifted drastically, as DVD sales, the cash cow at most studios, have started to slow.

- The Risky Biz blog has some video of the JC Cam, ideal for going a few rounds in the ring. The first punch-able camera?

- Edward Jay Epstein has a piece in Slate titled "Can You Clone a Movie Star? A report from Hollywood's digital frontier." He writes:

    Hollywood studios, whose main profits derive not from producing unique films, but from creating licensing platforms in the form of franchises, would clearly benefit from owning cyber-stars who never age. These stars could be used over and over again in sequels—including, if necessary, digital modifications that maximized their audience appeal. Their image could also be licensed to game and toy manufacturers without any restrictions. And like actors in the bygone studio system, these cyber-stars would be the studios' indentured chattel, playing whatever roles they were assigned. The advantage of such robotic compliance to a studio was spelled out in Andrew Niccol's 2002 movie Simone, in which a Hollywood producer-director (Al Pacino) explains that stars have become a bottleneck in studio production. "We always had stars, but they used to be our stars," he ruefully complains to his studio boss. "We would tell them what to do, what to wear, who to date." To restore this control, he creates a computer-generated composite of a star who incorporates the best features of Marlene Dietrich, Audrey Hepburn, and Lauren Bacall and programs the digital file, called Simone, to do whatever acting he requires.

- I'm told that Universal's "Inside Man" (directed by Spike Lee) will be released to digital cinemas in the US this month - making it the third film that that studio has released digitally (the first was "Jurassic Park III). A reliable source also tells me that Paramount will likely do its first-ever digital cinema release in 2006.