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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sony to Do Video Downloads? ... Mike Shoots with the Red ... Studio Chief Job Security ... One Less Drive-In

If you, like me, are trying to fend off the start of fall with some good old-fashioned procrastination, here's some Tuesday reading for you...

- Sony may soon challenge Apple in selling video downloads, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Oddly, the Journal story goes on for a while before mentioning that just last week Sony exited the business of selling digital music through its Connect online store.) From the story:

    People familiar with the situation say [Sony chairman Howard] Stringer is planning to use Sony's technology-packed PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable videogame machines, along with its Bravia high-definition televisions, to develop products and services to let users download television shows and movies, similar to the way they download music and videos using Apple's iTunes store and iPods. A Sony spokesman declined to comment on the company's strategy.

    As Internet connections have become faster, analysts have expected the next big potential market to be in downloading movies and television shows. Some analysts believe it could be significantly larger than the digital music market.

The writer says that Sony's main advantage in getting into digital video could be that "Content companies like movie studios may be wary of the way Apple dominated the digital music market, and may be more encouraged to work with another company, especially one that owns a movie studio of its own and understands their concerns."

The story also contains a projection from Parks Associates that total video download revenues for 2007 will hit $2 billion. That's real money.

- Mike Curtis is in New York playing with some of Red Digital Cinema's first production cameras.

- From Sunday's NY Times: 'For Studio Chiefs, the End of the Revolving Door?' Michael Cieply observes that the job security of studio chairmen may actually be increasing. Here's the gist:

    Over the last decade or so, managers of big companies like Sony, the owner of Columbia Pictures, and the News Corporation, owner of 20th Century Fox, came to realize that the film business is less about scoring the odd hit than keeping the pipeline full of something other than losers. That happened as the DVD explosion and growing sales abroad showed that even a modest success at the box office could bring home a substantial profit.

    Stability trumped brilliance. The cool of a John Calley, the longtime producer who took charge of Sony Pictures Entertainment in the period, replaced the heat of a Peter Guber, whose stormy reign preceded him. High-tension types like Michael D. Eisner and Michael S. Ovitz left the stage.

    For studio chairmen, an increasingly colorless lot, the shift in values brought with it a level of job security that was only occasionally achieved a generation ago.

- Also from the Sunday Times... this may make you sad: an obituary for a Buffalo drive-in.

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