Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How Stupid Are Movie Studios?

DVDs are a terrific source of revenue -- studios make twice as much off DVDs as they do off the box office every year. And yes, it makes sense to have DVDs come out three or four months after a blockbuster hits theaters. Nowadays, big movies make most of their money in the first two weeks. This let's a DVD slipstream off all the advertising spent on opening the movie in theaters without undly cutting off ticket sales. But what sort of movie do studios choose again and again to release day and date (or just about) on DVD and in theaters at the same time? Art house movies like the "The Ground Truth," a documentary about Iraqi War veterans. It's hitting theaters September 15 and coming out on DVD 11 days later. Unlike say "Pirates of the Caribbean," this isn't a movie you HAVE to see in a theater. In fact, it might even be more enjoyable at home. Plus, it's certainly not going to open to huge numbers -- documentaries can make money if they're nursed in theaters for three, four, six months or even longer. Look at "Word Play" or "An Inconvenient Truth" or just about any documentary of the past 20 years: they can make solid money, but it takes a LONG time. They also need word of mouth and the support of critics via reviews and features. With "An Inconvenient Truth" in theaters for months, the summer heat wave and other meteorological events gave people countless opportunitites to talk about that film, boosting its box office which in turn makes it all the more valuable a property when it comes out on DVD. All of that would be lost if it had come out on DVD a week after it opened in theaters. How ahrd is that to understand?

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