If you had the option to watch the biggest and best new movies in your living room on the day that they were released in theaters, would you take it? Even if it meant that movie theaters would suffer greatly, and maybe even disappear?
In November of 2009, the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) submitted a request to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking that it be allowed for new movies to be available in the comfort of people’s homes either on the day of theatrical release or sometime soon after release so that those who can’t make it out to theaters have the option to see films when they’re new.
Yesterday, the MPAA announced that the FCC had indeed approved of the request, making this future movie-watching option official. This was somewhat impossible for a while, but it looks like the deciding factor is that now there is the proper “selectable output control,” which allows for the highest-quality HD films to be offered securely. This should prevent would-be bootleggers from just using their own outputs to acquire the HD-quality films illegally from home.
But what does this mean for the movie theater? Despite massive box office numbers from record-obliterating titles such as Avatar, it’s no secret that theaters have faced major struggles lately. With this new option added to the mix, many believe that it could very well spell the demise of your local movie theaters.
Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA, had this to say about this huge decision in the future of movies as we know them:
This action is an important victory for consumers who will now have far greater access to see recent high definition movies in their homes. And it is a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand. We deeply appreciate the recognition by the FCC that recently released movies need special protection against content theft when they are distributed to home televisions.
The first, and best way to view movies will always be in movie theaters – and nothing can replace the pleasure this brings to millions and millions of people all across our country and the globe. But for those people unable to make it to the theater and interested in viewing a recently released movie, thanks to the FCC, they will now have a new option. For other consumers who prefer standard, linear, on-demand or DVD or Blu-ray options, these services will be unchanged.
As he said, the best way to see a movie is the theater, and I really hope this doesn’t kill them. On the other hand, I think this would be an awesome option to have, and that it’s really just the natural progression of the industry. We live in a time where you can watch movies anywhere, anytime, and they’re on DVD and Blu-ray within 4 or 5 months of their initial release. We want our movies as quickly as possible, and we want them in the highest quality available at all times. It’s a living, breathing, and constantly-growing industry.
I think that so long as there’s guidelines to how this works, all movie-watching options can still exist as one. Maybe instead of offering a movie in your home the day it’s released, wait a couple of weeks first; this would allow the theaters the ability to offer the best viewing option before it’s available more openly to everyone.
I also think that a lot of people would still prefer theaters. Many of the biggest summer blockbusters — like the ones coming out this summer, for example — are made for theaters and the theater-going experience. If a movie like Avatar comes out, you’re not going to want to watch that at home if you can truly “experience” it at a theater…or would you? They certainly can’t replicate the IMAX and 3D experiences currently available, that’s for sure. On the other hand, if this plan does play out, there is no doubt that no movie will ever again bring in the box office numbers that rule the top of charts right now.
But for the movies that you’re not that interested in, or don’t feel you need to see on the big screen, this would be a very cool option to have. What do you guys think about this decision by the FCC? Are theaters too important to risk like this, or is the idea of brand new films available to you in your home without crowds, over-priced popcorn, and talking kids too good to deny?