Monday, May 9, 2011

Another blow to the silver screen

There's a pile of things I've been meaning to post about, but lack the time to do so. Naturally, this site being what it is, most of the said topics relate to movie theaters. The most relevant, however, does not relate directly to the rapturous stand-alones of Southeast Asia, even though in some places and certain cases parallels do abound. We turn instead to the halls of corporate Hollywood, against which the directorial elite are up in arms over the future of movie-going.

About a month ago, four Hollywood studios began negotiations with a cable television provider to make new releases available on-demand shortly after their theatrical debuts. Such a move, argue some of Hollywood's top filmmakers, would have adverse affects for the movie industry across the board.

If the deal goes through, the latest in film could be accessed via Video On-Demand television a mere two months after hitting the big screen, further undercutting the profits of already-hurting movie theaters, many of which recently doled out large sums to buy 3D-capable projection systems.

But its the demise of the movie-going experience which most worries the likes of James Cameron, Peter Jackson and twelve other Hollywood heavyweights whom have spoken out against their corporate employers. Economics aside, there is no better way to view a movie than on the silver screen, the way the medium was developed. The arbitrary undermining of this practice would further diminish one the modern eras richest social practices.

At least one Hollywood producer has suggested that the only way to rationally get around this impasse would be for the studios to start investing in their own movie theaters. Doing so would guarantee larger box-office returns for the huge conglomerates by overturning anti-trust legislation passed over 60 years ago in the case the United States Vs. Paramount Pictures (filed originally by Philadelphia's own William Goldman Theater Co.). The landmark case forced Hollywood studios to sell off their theater holdings, thus opening the door for smaller exhibitors to show the latest goods from Tinseltown. It was a genuine instance of FDR-style Trust Busting finding application in the cinema.

What all this means for movies and movie theaters throughout Southeast Asia is yet to be seen. Likely each country will experience different effects depending on the profusion of Hollywood movies into the local market. That is, if anything happens at all. Regrettably, the SEA Movie Theater Project places little faith in the corporate world of modern motion pictures to do right by anybody other than themselves.

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