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David Poland

By David Poland

New (Media) Pre-Jac City

The New York Times had two stories yesterday that seemed disconnected… but are completely connected.
The first was about Redlasso, which decided to try to get ahead of the curve as a clearinghouse for daily television programs, clips of which are popular on websites. Unfortunately for Redlasso – or more so, its funders – the cutesy trick of trying to do this without the approval of the copyright holders is now turning into a real problem – the story – as the copyright holders build their own business models to control this very same content. Note that every sketch on SNL is now available for viewing and embedding on the NBC site, which includes ads for the networks and outside companies.
Next, you have a story about WB “Tr(ying) a New Tactic to Revive Its DVD Sales.” Of course, the central premise of the story is utter bullshit. The film they are “experimenting with” is one of maybe one or two a year they could consider making this kind of investment in… as they already did with The Animatrix and to some degree, with Batman and Superman animated product in anticipation of big theatrical releases. (the story) However, in the case of Watchmen, it is an interesting experiment. Will it have anything at all to do with the future of WB Home Ent? No. Not anymore than an pay-per-view day-n-date experiment with, say, the next-to-last Harry Potter movie would change the face of home delivery.
The third story is Sony’s creation of The Hot Ticket (the press release), announced last week, with the intention of delivering non-movie product to digital screens across America.
All three are stories of trying to get ahead of the curve, even if there are all kinds of inevitable reasons why it won’t work. Redlasso was hoping, it seems, that copyright owners wouldn’t notice that there was an outside company controlling and making money on their materials, so happy they would be with the popularity of the clips. Bzzt!
Sony is an established company, but still… if this kind of product ever ends up working in movie theaters as alternative programming – and the resistance for the last decade has been irrefutable – then won’t each studio with a distribution arm seek to built their own outlets for material, replicating the structure of theatrical distribution now?
And can Warners make people more anxious to buy DVDs by spending more on specific production for those DVDs? Well… weren’t these called extras for the last decade? Ah… it’s different… it’s better. Yes. And it’s much more expensive. And in this case, it might work. And 95% of the public doesn’t want to hear a director’s commentary on a dumb rom-com 95% of the time…. they want to see the movie… they want it for a price… and yes, on huge, culty movies, you can bend the public over and screw them until they bleed and they will come back for more. I’m not sure this is a breakthrough.
The thing is, everyone is reaching for new revenue streams, leaping into the fray, hoping that being first will mean being successful before anyone else gets wise.

2 Responses to “New (Media) Pre-Jac City”

  1. gradystiles says:

    What’s odd about the Warner Bros DVD story is that Watchmen isn’t even the first movie they’re trying this with. There’s a direct-to-DVD spinoff of Get Smart coming out a week or so after it’s released this summer, featuring the Bruce & Lloyd characters from the film.

  2. tfresca says:

    This is so going to tank. Has anybody at Warner actually read the Watchmen? It’s an interesting read but not a superhero comic book by popcorn movie standards. Assuming Snyder’s faithful to the book there is scarcely any action except for the prison break out and the fire. There is no franchise to be had here. This will make Speed Racer look like Iron Man, I guarantee.

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