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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Would you pay $30 for an on-demand rental of a new theatrical film release?

I’ve been predicting this for years — lately I’ve come to ranting about it — and I think it’s entirely inevitable, outside of a collapse of civilization that puts the kibosh on such luxuries as electricity and telecommunications. From Bloomberg:

Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Co. are in talks with the largest cable TV systems to offer films for as much as $30 per showing soon after they run in theaters.

The studios are talking with In Demand, a partnership of Cox Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., Bob Benya, chief executive officer of In Demand, said in an interview. Disney is also discussing streaming films on Web- linked devices such as Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox console and Sony’s Corp.’s PlayStation 3, people with knowledge of the talks said.

Hollywood studios have been looking for ways to generate additional sales from movies as DVD purchases continue to decline. A so-called “premium” service would let consumers see movies on TV without waiting the typical three or four months for DVDs or cable companies’ $4 or so on-demand showings.

Disney is likely to test consumer interest in the first quarter using a single film, said one of the people, who requested anonymity because the decisions are pending. The company hasn’t decided on pricing or how long to wait after theatrical release, the person said. Jonathan Friedland, a Disney spokesman, wouldn’t comment on the plan.

For this to truly work as a genuine alternative to going to the multiplex, the debut has to be the same day as a film is released to theaters. Multiplex owners won’t like this, of course. But buggy-whip manufacturers didn’t like automobiles, either.

Would you pay $30 for an on-demand rental of a new theatrical film release?

This seems like a reasonable price to me… especially since it would capture the audience that is not going to the movies much these days: grownups. It means no babysitter has to be paid for the evening; no paying for gas and, in some places, parking; no paying for disgusting overpriced snacks. Yes, the communal aspect of watching a movie would be lost… but that’s already being lost for those who simply wait for DVD.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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