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Monday, April 14, 2008

A Few Monday Reads: Piracy, Cameron, Blockbuster, and Digital Cinema Fees

- The NY Times has an interesting piece today that suggests that piracy is moving from NYC street corners to the Internet. (This may be in part due to a big enforcement initiative by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.) Eric Taub writes:

    Since December 2003, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg started an initiative to stem the trade in bootlegged and counterfeit goods, [NYC enforcement agent Shari] Hyman has “seen a huge decrease in illegal DVDs being sold in buildings.” In a February sweep, the organization checked out three buildings and 32 storefronts for bootlegged DVDs, and found none.

    But New York may not be the best barometer of piracy. Worldwide and on the Internet, video piracy remains rampant. The movie industry has devised new ways to fight piracy, and has pushed for antipiracy laws and run ads to discourage pirates.

    Besides pirated DVD copies of first-run films, copies are also available online for illegal downloading, mainly through peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. High-definition camcorders, some not much bigger than a cellphone, can copy films from a movie screen with little loss of detail.

- James Cameron shares a lot about what he's learned about shooting in 3-D in this e-mail interview with Variety's David S. Cohen. It's full of juicy observations, advice, and opinions. A snippet:

    COHEN: Right now, 3-D is pretty much being used for films that have some spectacle in them, whether it's "Journey to the Center of the Earth" or "U2 3D"; nobody's talking about using it for domestic dramas. But there are people wondering whether it will actually enhance the impact of character-driven stories. What are your thoughts on how 3-D changes the experience of watching actors act?

    CAMERON: I plan to shoot a small dramatic film in 3-D, just to prove this point, after "Avatar." In "Avatar," there are a number of scenes that are straight dramatic scenes, no action, no effects. They play very well, and in fact seem to be enhanced by the stereo viewing experience. So I think this can work for the full length of a dramatic feature. However, filmmakers and studios will have to weigh the added cost of shooting in 3-D against the increased marketing value for that type of film.

- Blockbuster wants to buy Circuit City for more than $1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Why? Blockbuster's CEO wants to create a company that can sell digital and physical media, and also the devices you need to play it on ... "an $18 billion global retail enterprise uniquely positioned to capitalize on the growing convergence of media content and electronic devices," CEO Jim Keyes wrote in a letter.

- Studios and cinema owners are wrangling over the fees studios will pay each time they deliver a digital file to a theater. (Known as the "virtual print fee," this helps theater owners --or a third-party that installed the digital projector and server -- defray the cost of the digital equipment.)

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