News From the 2005 Home Entertainment Summit - "The (DVD) boom time is over!"

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Nils Luehrmann, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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    The person who made that statement was none other than Steve Nickerson, senior VP of marketing for Warner's Home Video department.

    Home Media Retailing Magazine's Home Entertainment Summit attracts some of the top industry leaders as well as most of the studio execs from the home video departments including Steve Nickerson (Warner), Bob Chapek (Buena Vista), Michael Arkin (Paramount), Peter Staddon (Fox), and many more.

    The last three years since the annual summit was initiated, it has been a non-stop celebration over the massive success of DVD and ever increasing growth in sales, but things were quite different this year.

    The somber mood at the Summit was due to the recently released report on DVD sales and rentals by Digital Entertainment Group. Despite a 9.8% growth and an increase of $2.2 billion in revenue, the numbers showed a significant drop in growth of both DVD sales and rentals over a twelve month period ending March 2005.

    Like our friend Peter Staddon, VP of marketing for Fox Home Ent. said, most industries would kill to have that kind of growth, but even he is not underestimating the significance of such a large drop in growth:

    "The (DVD) industry must find ways to return to double-digit growth in order to remain robust in an age when nearly 85 percent of U.S. households will have at least one DVD player. Now we're at the time we've got to rely not on hardware to hand us growth on a silver platter. If we continue to provide great product, there's no reason why we can't propel market growth."

    The other hot topic on everyone's mind was the recent record-breaking box office slump the industry is currently facing.

    Some execs were quick to point out that they do not believe the success of DVD is the reason behind the drop in theater attendance, but rather the quality of the films being released.

    In addition, some execs suggested that they do not intend to shrink the release window for DVDs of new films in order to protect their theatrical interests, but this may change depending on the increase of video piracy.

    Warner announced a few weeks ago that they were considering releasing DVDs on the same day they release the films in a few select markets in order to combat piracy. Two months later they did just that
    for their release of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

    On the other hand, several execs seemed to accept that the popularity of DVDs were at least partially to blame for the drop in theatrical attendance. Another important factor to consider is the ever improving and economical home theater systems currently available to consumers.

    There has been a real Renaissance in A/V technology these last few years resulting in tremendous advancements in the quality of A/V equipment and whose success in the marketplace has driven prices to record low levels.

    There was a lot of hope and expectation that the studio execs might discus the pending release of the Hi-Def DVD format(s), but apparently, this was a forbidden topic, which could be interpreted as further evidence that negotiations between the Blu-ray and HD DVD groups remain cold, but not yet abandoned.
  2. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    Well they're wrong- the success of DVD is one reason, but another is the quality of PRESENTATION at most theaters, as well as their high prices, and too often having rude customers ruin the movie.
  3. Jeff D Han

    Jeff D Han Supporting Actor

    Mar 2, 2003
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    I think the main reason for low box office numbers
    is the shit that is being made today. Tons of remakes
    and pointless sequels, and not enough fresh ideas.
  4. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    I am still going at least 4 times a month to the movies or buy dvds.

  5. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator

    Jul 31, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
    I have a brilliant suggestion here - I think [​IMG] :

    Let those "select markets" be the theaters!

    A theater thus buys the right to a movie - and the right to distribute the DVD of that same movie during the same period. This may make the earlier release acceptable to them.

    That way a consumer can decide to go to the box office of the local theater to either (1) buy one or more tickets, or (2) buy the DVD, or (3) both.

    The price could be somewhat higher than the retail price at which the DVD will be available later.

    The theaters could promote possibility (3), e.g. by offering a discount against a (used) ticket of the movie of that same day of purchase (or inside the area, if transfer of the rest of the family's tickets to others must be avoided). So the lights go on and you may decide to buy a DVD of the movie at a reduced price. This will get known as the "End-titles Sale" (the end-titles are still running, while some patrons are buying the DVD).

    This way the early release of the DVD will not necessarily cut into the boxoffice sales (they sell either one or more ticket, or else the DVD), and although it may slightly reduce the sales of the current DVD retail market, the DVD will become available unrestricted after the time-window is over - at the same time it does now.

    Total sales of DVDs will increase and it may even promote the theaters: once you made the journey to the theater to buy the DVD, you might decide to see the movie after all (or vice versa)!

  6. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 23, 2003
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    Better still, why doesn't Hollywood stop making what amounts to little more than Big Screen TV shows and go back to making movies that actually look like movies, instead of glorified DVD's-in-waiting...

    (PS. This bad-tempered little titbit is aimed at Hollywood, and not at any poster in this particular thread. Just needed to make that clear! Phew!![​IMG])
  7. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

    Jan 11, 2001
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    I think its greedy of the studios to think they need to "get back" to double digit growth. That would suggest the market continuing to grow more than 10% each year over the previous year.

    I'm sorry, but there are limits to what people will spend on technology. DVD has been a tremendous money maker on both the hardware and software front, and if the industry is going to EXPECT to continue to grow over the previous year scares me at what lengths they will go to continue to make more and more money.

    The whole Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD fiasco disgusts me. The industry apparently learned nothing from VHS vs Beta, they learned nothing of the mass market failure of MiniDisc, and they learned nothing from SACD vs DVD-Audio.

    I would love nothing more than to update my collection with true HD transfers of some of my favorite movies, but I will not do it just to continue to line the pockets of studio execs just so they can hit their double digit growth estimates.

    I will do it when the technology is worth it, but no sooner.
  8. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Nov 15, 2004
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    The basement of the FBI building
    I find it funny that they act like movie theatres are ghost towns this year. Just in America, Star Wars has made $350 million already! The theatres aren't making as much money as they made in previous years but that doesn't mean that they are not making money. Undoubtedly, that's a problem if you're running a company but they're acting like movie theatres are empty around the country and they're poverty stricken.

    Anyone feel bad for an industry that cries because they are making millions but not as many millions as before? Didn't think so[​IMG]
  9. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

    Feb 4, 1999
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    I have to agree with this.

    Instead of going to the theater to see the new "Love Bug" movie, our family pulled down off the shelf the DVD of the *original* "Love Bug" and enjoyed its excellent presentation on our brand new Infocus 4805 front projector system.

    Both the movie and the presentation was probably far superior to what we would have experienced in the theater if we had opted to view the new "Love Bug".

    Plus ... The original "Love Bug" DVD was bought and paid for several years ago ... to see the new one would have cost us around $60.00 (including the gas to get to the multi-plex.)

    Go to the theater to view an inferior sequel with average presentation, or stay home and enjoy Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett in the original on a 96" screen? It's a "no-brainer"!
  10. Peter Overduin

    Peter Overduin Supporting Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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    A thread similar to this discussed whether people were buying fewer DVDs. I indicated I was one that was, in part because of the films being released these days. Another poster replied that I was more of HT junkie perhaps than a lover of film...and that he was so pleased at the amount of classic product being released.

    Point taken, but I would say...surely the vast majority of films today are of horrendous artisitic value. Hitch-hiker Guide, Hostage and mmore, while major releases are re-hased themes done far less well than in the past.

    The lack of freshness, originality and imagination is palpable in film today - outside of the independant film industry. the end my decision to NOT go the theater has nothing to do with DVD, and quite honestly not even price (I simply don't buy from concessions). It has to do with the creation of bad art...and while art may be a highly subjective and interpretive things...bad film is bad art...period. And the crap coming out today is simply not worth watching; either in the theater or on DVD.
  11. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

    Jul 4, 2000
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    Maybe it's just me being logical again, but if 85% of households already have DVD players, then doesn't that kind of preclude double digit growth? Yes, DVD had a huge boom, but now that everyone has a player, they're certainly not going to just replace it just for the hell of it.

    As for software, you're probably going to see the same thing as you did with CDs. I'm sure that the typical consumer buys a DVD player, and has a whole list of Back catalogue titles (i.e. DVDs that have already been released) that they want to go with it (I know I did). Once all of those are bought though, there's (mostly) only new DVD releases to worry about. Once everyone has bought their backlist, the sales numbers drop (and piracy gets blamed).
  12. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

    Mar 23, 2000
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    DVD is reaching saturation-but if the studios try harder to get people to buy-then I forsee some really great releases for us ahead;

    As for theatres-most movies these days are just 'product' and have no shelf life-as the previous poster said-too much 'crap' is being made today-all to make a quick buck;

    In the old days, at least they wanted to make a buck AND tell a good story-not so today.
  13. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

    Jan 27, 2003
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    While most of us understand how great the DVD technology is (and continue to buy like we did before), I think the DVD luster has lost some of it's attraction on your average consumer.

    About a year or two ago, it seemed like everyone (i.e. your average joe) was talking about DVD, but like everything else, they have become so commonplace now that the technology has become just another "oridinary" item. Just like CD's...when have you ever purchased a CD and thought "WOW! What an awesome piece of technology!" - it's not like when they first came out.

    This may well be what translates into a drop in growth.
  14. Lynda-Marie

    Lynda-Marie Supporting Actor

    Jun 3, 2004
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    In addition to the excellent points made above, I would like to point out that one reason DVD sales might be lower is that there is so much double, triple and more dipping.

    How many versions of "Dude, where's my car?" do the studios really think we need?

    I borrowed the Ultimate Edition of a movie from a friend, and it is the same director's cut I already have. The only differences I can spot are two little 10 minute documentaries that my version does not have, and the packaging is "cooler."

    I also have to agree that the quality of the movies lately are just not worth repeated trips to the theaters, or even one purchase on DVD, let alone the double and more dipping.

    The problems with the theaters have been howled about to deaf ears for too long. Cramming as many people as possible into a small auditorium with uncomfortable seats, scandalously over priced refreshments, a stream of mindless commercials we can see at home on TV for free, stupid unimaginative and repetitious movies, screaming babies/toddlers/other children, rude idiots who just don't get that most of us don't pay $9.00 or more to listen to their sparkling conversation either on cellphone or to their friends right there...

    So how about it, Hollywood? Get together with the theater owners before its too late and you lose even MORE revenues.

    1. Make the presentation venues a lot more comfortable. Not everyone in this country is two feet tall with a 6 inch wide behind. This is also a lob at those venues to make them more handicapped accessible. Yeah, we're in wheelchairs, or need other devices to get around, but we're still part of the viewing public, and we still have that wonderful green stuff you covet so avidly.

    2. Make the presentation venues a lot more affordable. $9.00 or more per ticket so some no talent can make $20 million or whatever per picture is ridiculous. If the "star" whines, let him/her trade places with the folks who are actually paying their salaries, and working their fannies off to make a living, instead of standing around looking pretty.

    3. Quit the remakes. There are so many talented writers with original ideas who are waiting tables or whatever to keep from starving. Once upon a time, Hollywood was the City of Dreams. Why has it become the City of Mindless, Repetitive Crap?

    4. Lose the commercials and the Tw20ty (or however it's spelled). I go to the theater to see a movie, not the same crap I can see on TV for free. The "inside story" can be saved for the movie's official website, to be watched and enjoyed at the viewer's leisure, not forced to endure.

    5. More intelligent trailers - the idea is to intrigue people enough to want to see the movies, not give away key plot points! [​IMG]

    6. Allow the presentation venues to hire ushers to remove rude, loud or unruly patrons, especially since "manners" seem to be out of style these days.

    7. Quit the multiple dipping of DVDs. Get all of the materials together, allow the viewer to choose theatrical or director's cut, Full or Wide screen, and get all the documentary and making of features into one release. All of the money and publicity spent on multiple releases of the same movie would be better spent on restoring and releasing some of the deserving, unreleased jewels in the studio vaults.
  15. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

    May 27, 2000
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    I don't believe that the quality of the movies is the reason for lower sales of DVDs and movie theater tickets. I am sure if we went back 10, 20, 30 or 40 years, people would have said the same thing at the time.

    Let's face it... as Theodore Sturgeon said, "90% of everything is crap" and he was probably being very optimistic. The trick is to filter out the crap and watch the remaining five or so percent. My netflix queue currently has 400 plus titles on it, comprising TV shows, classics, modern blockbuster, independents and foreign films. So I am not worried about quality. I am more worried that I don't have the time to watch it all.

    I think we inevitably have a different perspective on the past than on the present. In the present we see what's available to watch every week and it doesn't impress us. When we look at the past, all those classics just jump out at us, but you have to remember, for each one of those classics, there was tons of garbage produced, films that are thankfully long forgotten and on the dustheap of history.

    This is not to say that there are no differences in overall quality between different times, but the difference is a lot smaller than we think. If I had to make a list of my top 10 or 20 favorite films, they might be somewhat weighed towards Hollywood's Golden era, but there would still be films from modern times.

    As for the apparent decline in film industry, I think it's obvious that the growth of home theater and DVD is affecting it. I barely go to movie theaters anymore... I prefer to watch stuff in the comfort of my home. It costs less and the experience is better. If I didn't have a good home theater, I'd be going to the movies once or twice a week. If movie industry doesn't find a way to reinvent itself the way they did with Cinemascope in the 50s after the advent of TV, the trend will continue.

    Regarding the drop in DVD growth, I think it's in part saturation or oversaturation, and in part piracy. I used to buy a lot of DVDs until the novelty wore off, and I realized that I was more concerned with buying and having than with watching and enjoying movies. Ever since I stopped buying, (except for films of personal significance to me), and started renting, I enjoy films a lot more.

    I've been selling DVDs on ebay for about six years now. There is no question that piracy has become a huge factor, not only in terms of undercutting the prices you get, but also in terms of how jittery the buyers are. There isn't a week that goes by that I don't get a message asking me whether the dvd is legitimate or a bootleg... and this despite my 1300+ feedback rating and each of my auctins stating in big letters that I never, ever sell bootleg dvds. I conclude from this that piracy is such a major volume business that people are having trouble believing when something is legitimate.

    On my job, I work with solid, responsible, basically honest family-oriented people, each of whom is making well over $70,000, yet I know of at least five people who do not buy or rent movies, because they get and/or share bootlegs, and no amount of arguing will convince them that what they are doing is stealing.

    Sorry for such a long post,
  16. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Second Unit

    May 17, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Sean Aaron
    "A thread similar to this discussed whether people were buying fewer DVDs. I indicated I was one that was, in part because of the films being released these days."

    Agreed, Peter. I've pretty much filled in my back-catalogue (the only things I can think of off-hand are The Fly special edition forthcoming and any eventual release of Blade Runner; possibly going through my collection to replace non-anamorphic titles), and have been buying a lot more CDs (!) and books (!!) lately as I have more time to listen to music and read than I do to watch videos. Otherwise I'm buying some TV on DVD, but the releases are so sporadic and far between for the shows I do buy (Mystery Science Theatre 3000, The Simpsons, and Law and Order franchises), that my days of monthly DVD purchases are long gone.

    With the exception of Pixar releases my moviegoing days seem to be over as well. Napoleon Dynamite was the last film I saw that I enjoyed and it sure wasn't on a big screen, but a Blockbuster rental. I have to disagree with a later poster who said that people 20 or 30 years ago were probably saying the majority of films were crap. If they were it was probably based upon the themes on offer. The problem today is not just the re-hashed crap of seeing an endless stream of lame 70s tv show films or crap sequels, but the very art of filmmaking seems to have been lost.

    Dustin Hoffman recently criticized modern films for only being two-act; jumping straight to the second act as if directors no longer know how to start a film and I have to agree. My wife and I recently saw The Forgotten, which was surprising because it was genuinely scary and aside from having a rubbish ending it suffered because despite having a subject matter that we as parents should have found heart-wrenching, neither one of us felt anything for the Julianne Moore character. Why? Because there was no build-up or exploration of the character designed to give us any feeling for her whatsoever; consequently the fact that she was faced with the loss of knowledge of her own child had absolutely no emotional impact, despite the actress' performance. This is the cinematic norm today.

    Contrast with House of Sand and Fog, which is a film that takes its time introducing characters in a way that makes them all sympathetic and is powerfully moving.

    My wife likes to go out to get some time away from being a full-time mum and struggles to find a movie to see: basically the "least crap," but I just cannot be bothered anymore; if she drags me to Blockbuster we rent something and sometimes find a gem, but honestly it's like looking for a gram of gold in a sea of sh*t.
  17. Todd B

    Todd B Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 1, 1999
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    I believe that the DVD market has affected my movie going.

    I still enjoy going to our local theater (which still provides a pretty decent entertainment experience). Part of the problem for me is that studios depend so much on a film being an immediate hit. I can't count the number of movies that I originally wanted to see in the theater but put off until it was too late. I'm not a teenager and there are a lot of times that I simply cannot make it to a theater in the first few weeks a film opens. By the time I can see it, it has moved down to the small projection room on the end with the torn screen and the gum stuck to the seats.

    There would be more incentive to see a movie in the theater if it weren't for the fact that I can have a very good "first time" experience with a movie in my home theater just a few months after a film opens. The quality of most DVD releases combined with the fact that I have a good quality, well calibrated home theater with a 110" screen means that I don't feel that I have "missed out" if I can't make it to a movie when it is first released to the theaters.

  18. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

    Aug 27, 2001
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    South Florida

    This is it, and no-one in the mainstream media has ever taken a real hard look at how pathetic theatrical exhibition is, compared to a dedicated home theater.

    And when I say pathetic theatrical exhibition, I'm not talking about the seats, auditoriums, etc. - the comfort of the "stadium seating"-era of the last 10 years or so has certainly improved upon the old closet-sized multiplexes of the 80s.

    No, I'm talking about the absolutely pathetic audiovisual presentation of current theaters.

    I just saw War of the Worlds (on opening night), and the print already had a tear that ran for about 30 seconds. As for the audio...sheesh...the dialogue was mid-rangey to the point of utter annoyance, the lows were distorted, and the surrounds were completely unbalanced.

    I cannot wait until W.O.W. hits DVD. There's the answer.
  19. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

    Feb 6, 2001
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  20. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

    May 12, 2000
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    Well, I don't know where you live, but most of the theaters in this area are quite comfortable and are handicap friendly. The buildout the past few years of new theaters have helped in that regard.

    Certanly, your other arguments are valid. Some of which the movie industry can't do much about. (Rude patrons, for example.) I think the "crap movies" argument is bunk. There have always been crap movies, there always will be. We tend to look at the past through rose color glasses.

    Course, we aren't talking about theaters, but DVDs here. I think it is because most things the general public wants out of DVD they already have, and new movies are not going to sustain that type of growth. There are only so many "must have" films you can make in a year. Once you release the "must haves" from your back catalog, of course things are going to go down.


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