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

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

A few links: Web video impact on star salaries... Residuals debate... Labels cash in on YouTube/Google deal... Lucas and Colbert duel

- From sharp-guy economist Hal Varian: `Why Old Media and Tom Cruise Should Worry About Cheaper Technology'. Varian writes:

    From the viewpoint of the media executive, Mr. Cruise’s salary was definitely a cost: it was the stars’ salaries that contributed to making movies expensive. So what if software for editing video has been getting a lot cheaper? That’s a trivial part of production costs.

    But amateur filmmakers don’t pay star salaries. From their point of view, cheaper editing software and cheaper broadband means that it is much easier to produce “garage video.”

    So as technology advances and costs go down, a lot more amateur video will be produced. Economic rent comes from scarcity. It is true that there is only one Tom Cruise, but it is equally true that there are only 24 hours in a day. The more time young people spend watching Lonelygirl15, the less time they will have to watch Mr. Cruise.

    I don’t think that the age of the megastar is over. Quite the contrary, there will still be big-budget movies, and stars with drawing power will still command high salaries.

    But, at the same time, I believe that there will be a flowering of creative, inexpensive and compelling semiprofessional content available via the Internet. This content will occupy more and more of people’s attention, particularly young people.

- Writers and actors want to make sure they get their fare share of payments from digital downloads, according to this LA Times piece.

- The NY Times reports that three music companies -- Universal, Warner, and Sony BMG -- all got a small chunk of equity in YouTube as part of the music licensing deals they struck with YouTube in the weeks before Google acquired the video-sharing site. The three labels collectively could receive about $50 million in Google stock as a result. Can you say `buying your friends'?

- Worth watching: George Lucas' appearance on `The Colbert Report' from last week: