Just Plain Stupid

Some of the projected blockbusters have tanked at the theaters this summer.  They’re now showing outright commercials before the movies.  And the MPAA is running an “it hurts the common man” series of commercials in theaters that accuses the audience of being thieves (I refuse to give in to their overcharged rhetoric and use the term “piracy” for file sharing; if a Kazaa user starts shooting people and stealing their computers then I might reconsider).  Oh, yeah, and they released some major stinkers this summer (Gigli, anyone?).  So what does the movie industry blame for the poor performance of their movies?  Text messaging.

In Hollywood, 2003 is rapidly becoming known as the year of the failed blockbuster, and the industry now thinks it knows why.

No, the executives are not blaming such bombs as The Hulk, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle or Gigli on poor quality, lack of originality, or general failure to entertain. There’s absolutely nothing new about that.

The problem, they say, is teenagers who instant message their friends with their verdict on new films – sometimes while they are still in the cinema watching – and so scuppering carefully crafted marketing campaigns designed to lure audiences out to a big movie on its opening weekend.

“In the old days, there used to be a term, ‘buying your gross,’ ” Rick Sands, chief operating officer at Miramax, told the Los Angeles Times. “You could buy your gross for the weekend and overcome bad word of mouth, because it took time to filter out into the general audience.”

I swear, these people are living in a dream world (although I find it strange that they’d own up to the fact that they’re trying to buy their way out of the fact that they make crappy movies).

But I think there’s more to it that just text messaging.  A lot of people go to IMDB and rate movies after they’ve seen them.  Quite simply, the movie studios have just discovered that we live in an era of highly distributed real-time communications.  A level of communication that allows the average person to see around and through the corporate hype machine that used to be able to snow them.

Link via Slashdot.


  1. Kevin White says:

    The internal workings of the RIAA and MPAA seem to move like molasses when it comes to business acumen with regard to new and changing technology.

    The internet has certainly changed the way I buy, well, virtually anything. I generally seek opinions from several different sources—pro reviews, user opinions, message boards, and folks I’m friends with—before I spend the time or money, and this goes for everything from buying a $6000 used motorcycle to a $6 movie ticket.

    But the major movie-watching trend for me is that I don’t go to the movies. If it’s a movie I want to see, I wait, and watch it on the big/wide screen with the six speaker surround system on the couch with the pause button and the good food and the company I want to keep and the special DVD features afterwards. I’m just fed up with the theater experience—the rude people, the shaking screen, the lack of surround sound, etc.

    I suspect, as home systems get better and more affordable, and theaters get seemingly worse, that a lot of people will start to feel the same way.

  2. I still like some parts of the movie theater experience, provided that the theater is in good condition with a good sound system.  I’ve become partial to the Rave theater south of Denton in Hickory Creek.

    However, you’re right about the convenience of the DVD.  I’ve already got a decent 5.1 sound system.  My next purchase (sometime after I get settled into a house) will be a widescreen TV with the 16:9 aspect ratio (I like watching widescreen DVDs; pan-and-scan annoys me now).