Sales in the Red(box)

In a world where you can go to the grocery store and pick up dirt cheap movie rentals on a whim, Hollywood feels their profits are threatened by an ever growing trend of people who do not want to buy movies but instead view them for a low cost.  Personally, I figured it was a matter of time before the studios started complaining about this form of convenient movies.  The internet is bad enough because it makes movies free, but it’s also difficult to profit off of a $1 a day rental.  Shame on you, Redbox!

In briefly thinking about it, there are at least two reasonable ways to combat Coinstar’s rental solution:

  1. Don’t allow your movies to be rented out via Redbox.  I don’t know if this can be handled via supply or if a legal clause needs to be written, but your profits will not be undercut when Redbox is no longer a viable supplier.  That means a person would have to through the less cost efficient process of renting from Blockbuster or buying the overpriced item from the store.  I am honestly not familiar with what it is that makes renting legal to begin with, so maybe this option is not all that reasonable.  I just think there should be a way to cut them out.  (Update: Thanks to an anonymous tipster (see comments below), it’s been pointed out to me that the entertainment industry has tried in the past to stuff rentals but failed.  Apparently repeatedly.  This does not undercut my more salient message in Number 2.)
  2. Make movies worth owning.  This hits multiple stages of the production process.  People will not buy movies that they do not think are worth keeping.  If movies were less simple and had more layers in which people can wrap themselves in or just felt resonated with them, they would keep the films around for multiple viewings.  Or the home video releases could employ a number of features that add and build upon multiple viewings.  Interactivity keeps things fresh, which is why the Watchmen blu-ray will feature connectivity with Facebook to discuss the film with people as you go.  (Honestly, I think something akin to Nine Inch Nails’ iPhone app would be great – connect viewers to people within a 20 mile radius who are also watching the film.)  It just helps to have reasons to even want to own a film, especially since the industry seems to be pumping out more and more disposable stories.

Even though I am in great favor of freely available media, I am more than willing to drop cash on a worthwhile product.  If the studios hope to eliminate the problem they see in Redbox, they need to up their game.  Most people see the experiencing of watching a movie simply as sitting back and watching things unfold.  It’s a passive medium, so I can collect everything in my mind and then do away with the physical container.  Studios need to ask themselves the question of why anyone would want to pay to hold onto something.  What is it that ownership can provide for the average film that cannot be found otherwise?  When one finds that answer, one has found the key to actually selling a product.

(Story found via TheConsumerist.)

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on May 14, 2009, in business, movies, real life. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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