It’s Time For Film Distributors to Discover the Internet

The digital age is well and truly upon us, and film industries, the world over, continue to drag their feet. Rather than adapting to the new possibilities of internet distribution large producers are instead focused on alienating its audiences by criminalising them through intellectual property law, and failing to deliver content on the platforms that audiences want.

Key roadblocks are the major exhibitors who contest distributor calls for change on the basis that this will erode box-office returns. There is a major failure to recognise that resisting market demand is not how you maintain or increase profit. For instance, rather than distributors and exhibitors banding together to innovate new solutions, Australia is set to trial a 90-day release holdback between theatrical and home entertainment release, in place of the traditional 120-day holdback.  

As a university tutor of screen studies, I regularly come into contact with moviegoers in their late teens and early 20s. What has this taught me?
  • This particular demographic prefers to access their content online.
  • Most are shocked to find that some of their online activity may be deemed illegal and are more than willing to pay for internet access to new release films.
  • They generally reserve trips to the cinema for big event movies, like Avatar and The Life of Pi.
  • They rarely access content via DVD or on television.
  • Finally, they see no reason to wait out the holdback windows to view content; they want it now.

If a customer wants a product now and they’re willing to pay for it, I would think that the onus is on the producers, distributors and exhibitors of that product to make it available and turn a profit in the process. Instead, we have ineffective and inefficient “trials” modifying traditional downstream distribution patterns, powerful lobby groups pandering to governments and championing the tightening of intellectual property laws, all of which transforms potential customers into criminals.


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