Sony's Secret New Plan To Shake Up The Movie Business

Jan 29, 2009
7,187
It is early days yet, but recent developments appear to indicate Sony may be developing its own platform for film distribution -- to TVs, not movie theaters or DVD retailers.

The latest: Reports emerged today that Sony would launch 3D TVs next year in a bid to boost flat TV sales.

The 3D TVs would make a nice addition to Sony's electronics offerings, but the company could also be positioning itself and its proposed new distribution platform to participate in a growing trend in Hollywood: Producing movies in 3D. Many theaters are equipping their screens with 3D-capable technology just as 3D movies gross impressive box office receipts in theaters -- driven by viewers' appetite for premium 3D tickets. 3D movies like Monsters vs. Aliens, Ice Age, and Up are among the highest grossing movies in 2009.

Earlier, BusinessWeek reported that Sony was making the rounds with the major Hollywood studios to discuss releasing their movies over the Internet to its Internet-connected Bravia TVs after they are released in theaters, but before they are released on DVD.

One proposed plan is to charge viewers $40 for 24-hour rental access to its movies. While the price seems high at first, consider that this is about the same cost for a family of four to see a movie in the theater (concessions not included). In addition, BusinessWeek's sources says the price tag for now is focused on those viewers who aren't willing to wait for the DVD in order to view movies in their homes -- and are willing to pay a premium over DVD prices for that luxury.

This, of course, would cannibalize DVD sales, which have come under pressure the past few years as other forms of in-home entertainment have caught on. (Another reason to keep pricing high.) But, it could also impact movie theaters, since it's unclear how long after a movie is released in theaters that the movies would be streamed to Sony TVs. Currently DVDs are released an average four months after a theater release, so Sony's proposed releases could conceivably occur at any point within that window -- from a week to a couple months.

Let's also not forget Sony's Playstation 3 game console, which currently offers video content and could represent another distribution platform for movies. The company has sold over 20 million consoles worldwide since it launched in 2006.

To be sure, there has been talk for years about theaters being threatened by an in-home viewing experience that is getting bigger and better it seems each year -- all while gross box office receipts have increased six of the past eight years and reached an all-time high in 2008. DVDs sales, on the other hand, have not held up well -- industry sales are expected to fall to $13.3 billion from $16 billion in 2006.

Given that Sony's proposed distribution model to TVs would occur before DVDs are released but after theater releases, it appears DVD sales are most at risk. In addition, theaters make the studios a ton of money as well as being powerful marketing engines for DVDs, pay-per-view, and merchandise sales - which occur after theater releases. So the studios are likely hesitant to step on their toes.

Still, depending on how the studios -- and, more importantly, consumers -- react to any new distribution service, this could turn out to be anything from just another incremental challenge to a major competitor for eyeballs.

Source: money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/siliconalley/media/is_sony_trying_to_shake_up_the_movie_distribution_business_2009_9.html
 
Jan 30, 2009
1,562
England
I would like to see a film release on blu or dvd the same time as the cinema??but i aint paying $40 to watcha film if im on my own either. I like the idea but i dont think you will see the death of the cinema. There is too much money in it.
 
Apr 17, 2009
7,731
San Diego, CA
no way! I'd rather go to the cinema any day. But to the OP...

a 3D tv? I'll pass. I hate it in the theater as well. It's generally bland at best and gives me a headache.
 
Earlier, BusinessWeek reported that Sony was making the rounds with the major Hollywood studios to discuss releasing their movies over the Internet to its Internet-connected Bravia TVs after they are released in theaters, but before they are released on DVD.

One proposed plan is to charge viewers $40 for 24-hour rental access to its movies. While the price seems high at first, consider that this is about the same cost for a family of four to see a movie in the theater

See, you dont get the access to the movie untilits OUT of the theaters ... the way they are popping up so fast now to home media might as well just wait 2 more months and get the Blu-ray and OWN it for half the luxury price of $40 for a 24 hour rental!

Even with that, I'd rather pay $40 at a nice theater for a theater experience of the laughing, screaming and WHOOAAAAAA moments then just for a few people in my crib regardless of it being just as comfortable.

My 2 cents.
 
Mar 12, 2009
963
i wouldn't pay for $40 for 24-hour rental access...even if it's before dvd release,it's only more way of a window for pirates to get their hands on it.

plus you only get to watch the movie and don't have it in a hard copy where you can watch any time you want & shouldn't that cut costs down if your charging us 40 dollars if it's not stamped down on disk?

I'm already spoiled by blu-ray's format....where's my 1080p picture, 5.1 hd uncompressed sound??...nope,i'll stick to my blu-rays that are tough in-remaining condition with the technology it hold's on it's own.
 

Chandler_90

Evil Par5n1p
Premium Supporter
Mar 9, 2010
1,273
South Shields
This could be potentially huge in terms of how it affects income for new movies and indeed the salaries of the actors.

However from another perspective it could also be extremely useful for people who cannot make it to the cinema, such as those with agrophobia.

The rise of Netflix and (in the UK) Lovefilm has indicated that there is a massive market ready to be penetrated by someone offering a service like this.