Disney and Sony are experimenting with streaming in an odd new way. Instead of waiting to stream movies until they hit home video, they’re offering filmgoers in South Korea the option to stream those movies directly at home. But will this ever come to the US?
It’s not really clear what the system itself entails, but it’s pretty clear what you can get:
Sony and Disney are the first of the US studios to ever offer viewers with the option to either buy a ticket for the theater or just watch it in their own home using cable or internet. So far Django Unchained, Wreck-it Ralph, and Brave have all been offered up under the scheme.
This is largely because, as much as the MPAA gripes about piracy in the US, there’s a far more pressing piracy problem in Asia, that they’re hoping this policy will counteract; people are far less attached to movie theaters across the Pacific.
So, will this happen in the US? Excellent question. It’s not a big secret that as ticket prices go up, attendance drops at movie theaters, and all the gimmicks theaters are throwing to justify ticket prices brushing $20 at patrons aren’t working, as this weekend’s box office clearly demonstrated. Hollywood would clearly like for you to spend twelve bucks on watching their movies on a more consistent basis.
We can foresee a problem with this, though. It will push already strained theaters to the financial limit; even if the cost matches ticket prices, it’s still going to be cheaper to sit a bunch of kids in front of one TV screen to watch a movie instead of dragging them all to a theater and paying for each seat, not to mention snacks. Or, for that matter, just being able to see a movie without some asshat turning on his phone three rows down; there’s a theater in my area that has stayed in business partially because anybody caught texting is thrown out, no refunds.
True, this is entirely the fault of theaters owners; they’re the ones who have kept pushing up ticket prices even when its blatantly clear the policy is hurting them. But when a major theater chain collapses, it’s going to be a major problem for Hollywood. Much of their strategy depends on releasing a movie on as many screens as possible at once in each market, so a theater chain imploding would severely ding their revenues and possibly leave them dependent on whoever is streaming their first-run movies. So, for now, expect this to stay outside the US.
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