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post #1 of 43 Old 12-21-2010, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...366116290.html


A proposed service aims to bring movies to homes the same day they hit theaters, a milestone that Hollywood has long anticipated with a mixture of fear and fascination.

But there's a catch: At the prices currently being discussed by Prima Cinema Inc., the start-up that is touting the service, those movies will reach only world's the best-appointed living rooms.

Prima plans to charge customers a one-time fee of about $20,000 for a digital-delivery system and an additional $500 per film. The Los Angeles-based company has around $5 million in backing from the venture arm of Best Buy Co. and General Electric Co.'s Universal Pictures, and hopes to start delivering movies to customers as soon as a year from now.

The steep price has been met with mixed reactions in Hollywood. Some executives question whether it will be possible to build a market beyond a few thousand users. (Prima says it plans to install its systems in 250,000 homes within five years.) Others say the high price would create an exclusive, super-premium niche market without cutting into existing sources of revenue.

"While this is a niche market, there is a chance for significant upside," says Adam Fogelson, chairman of Universal Pictures, which holds a minority stake in Prima. "And precisely because it is a niche market, that upside should come without harming any of our existing partners or revenue streams."

Prima's founder and chief executive, Jason Pang, echoes that sentiment.

"We're not here to replace anything, "says Mr. Pang, who was involved with other video technology companies before founding Prima. "We are trying to create new revenue streams for studios and new viewing opportunities for moviegoers."

The proposed system represents a twist in an ongoing debate over the future of "release windows," the practice of staggering the distribution of movies through different channels to maximize profits in each. Traditionally, that has meant a movie hits theaters first, followed several months later by DVDs, video-on-demand, subscription-cable channels, and so on.

The windowing system has already come under pressure amid plummeting DVD sales and rising digital piracy. And consumers have grown accustomed to receiving entertainment content more readily than they used to.

One hot-button issue in that debate has been an early, "premium" video-on-demand window, in which cable subscribers could pay $30 or so to watch a movie a month or two after its debut in theaters.

Studios no longer make as much from DVDs. U.S. consumer spending on DVDs is down about 20% in 2010 from 2009, to $7.8 billion, according to media-tracking firm IHS Screen Digest. DVD spending is down 43% from its 2006 peak of $13.7 billion.

At the same time, consumer spending on video-on-demand services rose 17% in 2010 from 2009, to $1.4 billion, according to IHS.

Prima has met with all six major studios as well as several of the smaller, independent ones about licensing their films. Prima anticipates that several of them will sign on when the company launches its service in late 2011.

A handful of entertainment-industry power brokers and other wealthy individuals, known as "the Bel-Air circuit," for years have received free prints of first-run movies from studios to show in their home screening rooms. Prima would make first-run movies available to a larger audiencethose willing to payand would generate revenue for studios.

Theater owners generally object to the idea of premium video-on-demand, saying it would disrupt their business. The president of the National Association of Theatre Owners John Fithian, who was briefed on Prima, says the exhibitors reaction to Prima's model would "be decided on an individual company basis." Still, he says, most exhibitors aren't in favor of systems that impinge on movie-going.

The Prima model "makes very little sense as it risks millions to make pennies" by exposing movies to the possibility of piracy early on, Mr. Fithian says. "There is no such thing as a secure distribution to the home," he adds, noting, "This proposal will give pirates a pristine digital copy early, resulting in millions of lost revenue to piracy, while at the same time selling a very limited number of units. Only billionaires can afford $500 per movie."

Prima isn't the only company trying to bring movies to homes faster. Time Warner Inc., which owns Warner Bros., has said it expects to test an early-release offering with a new film as soon as next year. Under the program, consumers would pay roughly $20 to $30 to watch digital copies of movies within a month or two of their release in theaters.

Sony Pictures offered its 2008 Will Smith film "Hancock" and its animated 2009 "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" early to users of its Bravia TV before the films were out on DVD. "It's clear that there is a big white space between the theatrical and DVD releases of movies that content companies can fill without cannibalizing folks on either side of the spectrum," Sony Corp. of America Chief Financial Officer Robert Wiesenthal said at a media-business conference in New York Tuesday. "There's a real consumer desire for an early, premium offering in the home."

But not every studio is in favor of early offerings. Viacom Inc. Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said Monday that his company isn't one of the conglomerates considering a new premium video-on-demand service. "We want to satisfy our theater distributors," said Mr. Dauman on Monday, also at the UBS investor conference. Viacom owns Paramount Pictures, but is controlled by Sumner Redstone's closely held National Amusements Inc., which also owns a movie-theater business.

Nat Worden contributed to this article.
Write to Lauren A. E. Schuker at lauren.schuker@wsj.com

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post #2 of 43 Old 12-21-2010, 01:16 PM
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Good additional info, should consider moving to the original thread: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1296518



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post #3 of 43 Old 01-02-2011, 10:40 PM
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I agree such a system would be almost impossible to police. Film Piracy would go through the roof, as people could easily copy the product more rapidly in the privacy of a private home, then in a theater that is protected by security. I also question if even super wealthy people would go for something like this. As the article already stated, those inside the film community, already get these films for free in their private screening rooms. And while I like the idea of watching a movie on release date in my home, I'm not about to spend that kind of money just to avoid being a little inconivienced by having to drive down to the local theater. In fact I have always enjoyed watching new releases at the theater. There is something about the interaction of other people enjoying the same film as I am, that is hard to duplicate in your home.

It's a balance that works well for me. The local theater gives me the opportunity to watch a film on a far bigger screen then could ever fit in my house, and enjoy the reaction from fellow film goer., Then months later I take the time to re-watch the film in the privacy of my home theater. I like that system far better.
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post #4 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 07:57 AM
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Guys!

You could buy a helluva lot of BluRay movies for $20K...........



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post #5 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 08:05 AM
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Will it be better than BD is one question. If we can get DCI content the the larger color space as well as lower compression would be nice.

A few good films would be great also.

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post #6 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 08:16 AM
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I don't buy that piracy is the root cause for the decrease in disc sales. I'd couple the ease of download/streaming services with the relatively low percentage of quality titles that are released by Hollywood as root causes. I don't see this type of early release system affecting the bottom line for studios, as the initial and recurring costs are prohibitive for your average person.

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post #7 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by HogPilot View Post

I don't buy that piracy is the root cause for the decrease in disc sales. I'd couple the ease of download/streaming services with the relatively low percentage of quality titles that are released by Hollywood as root causes. I don't see this type of early release system affecting the bottom line for studios, as the initial and recurring costs are prohibitive for your average person.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what we think. They have what we want, so they can set the rules of the game.


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post #8 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 09:40 AM
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Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what we think. They have what we want, so they can set the rules of the game.
I agree to a point. It does matter what we (consumers) think in that the industry is seeing declining disc sales and a rise in streaming of content because of consumer's buying and watching habits. Piracy is just a convenient scapegoat, but blaming it and continuing business as usual rather than adapting to the market is just hurting studios in the long run. Consumers are voting with their pocket books, and the industry is reaping the consequences of their distribution and pricing policies. However, insomuch as studios can prevent the success of an early-release distribution system by denying content for it, you're absolutely right.

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post #9 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 10:12 AM
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I think there is another thread about this, but I think this should be taken to account.

I think this should be for people operating large venue true locally operated cinemas, this should not be put into a personal flat panel private viewing (as they try to advertise); that is bull. A person was arguing about piracy and why it wouldn't allow people to sell tickets. Shouldn't there be a fee to allow sale of tickets, it wouldn't matter what they venue wishes to sell, a person can make a nickelodeon (I mean 5 cent) of first run movies if they really wanted to.

I figured a $20,000 install fee and $500 price would be kind of already an owning of a public "copy"?
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post #10 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 10:45 AM
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with the relatively low percentage of quality titles that are released by Hollywood as root causes.
Agreed ! I made the mistake of going to see Tron yesterday afternoon.

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post #11 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 11:02 AM
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The only operative question here is, "how do I short this?"
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post #12 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 11:54 AM
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Agreed ! I made the mistake of going to see Tron yesterday afternoon.

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I guess I didn't have high expectations (or really any expectations) going in to watching it, so I guess the novelty of IMAX 3D and all the CGI was enough to entertain me. I didn't think it was patently bad, but I certainly didn't think it was great.

My wife wants to go see Little Fockers though, and I'm absolutely dreading that...

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I still think there's a market for this process. I'm currently in a low population area (compared to mainland cities), and already know several guys interested in buying into this offering. They only want assurances that at least three major studios will be onboard. I'll do it as well, but want the same assurances and the ability to maintain a persistant copy (I'll settle for a BR version).

The guys I'm talking about NEVER go to a theatre (neither do I), and normally have to wait for the DVD/BR release. Reaching that market doesn't affect theatre owners. So, although I do think there is a market, the question is, are there really 250,000 of these people out there?

I've been invited to meet with their execs at a private meeting and showing during CES. Hoping to get there, but not willing to leave the new twins at this point, so I'll be relying on a friend that will pass along the info. We'll see.


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It's a test price. They need to prove that there is a niche market and convince the studios that there's money to be made. Once they prove the concept's viability it's just a matter of determining the price and volume that achieves maximum profits for the studios.
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post #15 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 02:10 PM
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The only operative question here is, "how do I short this?"

My sentiments exactly! This has all been aired out in the other thread. It will never happen. There is no business model that makes any sense for the film industry. Jason Pang, or whoever is behind the scheme, is trolling for uninformed investors. That's the only business model in play here.
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post #16 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 03:51 PM
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My sentiments exactly! This has all been aired out in the other thread. It will never happen. There is no business model that makes any sense for the film industry. Jason Pang, or whoever is behind the scheme, is trolling for uninformed investors. That's the only business model in play here.

Wait...so you're saying I shouldn't have just wired $100k to an overseas bank account to help fund this? Whoops...

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post #17 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 04:59 PM
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I admit to agreeing with you guys, I seriously doubt it will actually work as planned, but still an interesting thought, and after verifying Universal's involvement (which I did), I'm willing to give it more of my time.

I'm curious as to whether the CES pitch is a "looking for $," or "looking for customers" pitch. I guess we'll know soon enough.


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post #18 of 43 Old 01-03-2011, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by JlgLaw View Post

I admit to agreeing with you guys, I seriously doubt it will actually work as planned, but still an interesting thought, and after verifying Universal's involvement (which I did), I'm willing to give it more of my time.

I'm curious as to whether the CES pitch is a "looking for $," or "looking for customers" pitch. I guess we'll know soon enough.


Jim

I am envisioning a scrooge-like revelation where some guy buys a Christie CP4320 (32000 Lumens 4K) and fires up a large 150 foot screen with screening of the latest films. The Best part it is free (Then it turns into another Altamont free concert festival all over again ).
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post #19 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 03:52 AM
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I've been assured that the pricing structure of this service is being radically reworked.

Feedback from recent market research has been the main motivator in this development.

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post #20 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 08:29 AM
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Quote:
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My sentiments exactly! This has all been aired out in the other thread. It will never happen. There is no business model that makes any sense for the film industry. Jason Pang, or whoever is behind the scheme, is trolling for uninformed investors. That's the only business model in play here.

Maybe, maybe not.
Perhaps there are a group of people willing to pay more for movies but don't watch them at the theater. Perhaps an instant access model brings in $50M but only erodes $10M in lost DVD and theater seats.

The issue is finding a price point that brings in more revenue than it loses and doesn't alienate theater owners. The model works if such a price point exists and is doomed to fail it it doesn't.
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Is this DCI content ?

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post #22 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 11:44 AM
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Is this DCI content ?

Art



I'm still trying to get this answered Art.



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post #23 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Swampfox View Post

Maybe, maybe not.
Perhaps there are a group of people willing to pay more for movies but don't watch them at the theater. Perhaps an instant access model brings in $50M but only erodes $10M in lost DVD and theater seats.

The issue is finding a price point that brings in more revenue than it loses and doesn't alienate theater owners. The model works if such a price point exists and is doomed to fail it it doesn't.



I agree, keeping emotion out of the equation, it's always about the bottom line. My friends are in the first group you mentioned above, they will not go to a theatre (no phobia, they just like to control their time and there is no flexibility with a theatre experience, whereas at home they can pause and take care of business).


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post #24 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 11:53 AM
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I don't think so, these are the DVIX guys with past habits and patterns that would likely attempt reviving some insiduous pay-as-you-go with less-than-top-notch-quality intellectual property.

Besides there is not enough series 2 DCI projectors to go around as it is, the three projector manufacturers are back logged for years....


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I'd bite if:
1) the presentation was Blu-ray standard or better
2) start up costs were $1500, not $20,000
3) cost per view was in a range $50-75 (art-house vs blockbuster)

The proposed costs are simply unrealistic.

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post #26 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 11:58 AM
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I don't think so, these are the DVIX guys they are trying to revive some of their insiduous pay-as-you-go with less-than-top-notch-quality intellectual property.

Besides there is not enough series 2 DCI projectors to go around as it is, the three projector manufacturers are back logged for years....

Really???
I wouldn't give those hacks the sweat off my balls.

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post #27 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 12:49 PM
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Perhaps an instant access model brings in $50M but only erodes $10M in lost DVD and theater sales.

And what model would that be? More importantly, how could it have been overlooked by one of the most opportunistic industries on the planet?
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post #28 of 43 Old 01-04-2011, 07:24 PM
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And what model would that be? More importantly, how could it have been overlooked by one of the most opportunistic industries on the planet?

They were hostile to TV.
They were hostile to cable.
They were hostile to Video Tape.
They were hostile to DVD.
They were hostile to HDTV.
They were hostile to BluRay.

Yet, all of these have led to incremental revenue.
I'd describe them as "protectionist" rather than "opportunistic".
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While I have no doubt there ARE folks willing to pay for something like this, for the average Joe (or slightly cinematically enthusiastic Joe), it boils down to one thing and one thing only.

Do I REALLY wanna watch this?

And I say that because, let's assume the current pricing is meant more as "shock and awe" and will be more realistic, realistically. A couple going to the movies will easily spend $30-40, and a family probably twice that. So, paying $50 for early access is not THAT absurd. However....Hollywood has been churning out so much crap lately, that the movies that I'd REALLY pay for early access are few and far in between.

They need to up their game. No sweat, no pay day.

Blaming it all on piracy is just lazy, fat hollywood honchos talking. They are out of touch with reality. Give me a reliable, quick, relatively cheap (notice...I said relatively), distribution medium, and I'll happily pay day in and day out. Throw DRM, AACS, HDCP and what not in there, and I'll say FU quicker than a fox and find an alternative medium.
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post #30 of 43 Old 01-05-2011, 06:32 AM
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So, although I do think there is a market, the question is, are there really 250,000 of these people out there?

With all this talk of "is there a market out there?", it got me thinking. While I'm no market analysis and studies genius (and I'm sure this company has some pretty darn good ones on staff), I started looking into the number of rich folk out there.

According to Forbes latest list for 2010, there's a staggering 1,011 Billionaires in the world, 403 in the US alone. Then depending on how you calculate a person's gross worth (for the sake of argument here, I'll use the number that includes a person's primary residence, because after all, that's where the home theater goes most of the time), 17+ million millionaires, with over 7.8 million of those in America.

Now someone can chime in and correct me, but I'm guessing 50%, if not more, of those billionaires would jump in on this product. But that's really just chump change compared to around 1 million of those millionaires if you go w/ a conservative estimate of somewhere between 5-10%.

I'd say they definitely have their market.
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