Would You Watch Spider-Man 3 at Home?

There's no way around it: This is a good idea. The news is that:

"Comcast Corp., the biggest U.S. cable operator, has held talks with Hollywood studios to show movies on cable on the same day as they open in theaters."

Yes, thank you, finally. For too long the theater system has held us ransom. Every other entertainment medium is evolving to provide choice, why have we always been obligated to leave our homes to see a new movie? Online music went from Napster to legally downloadable within a few years. The people who don't want opening-day movies are the same sort of people who said the VCR would destroy the theaters. Frankly, I've been in enough dirty theaters where people talk and get cell phone calls that if I never go again I'll be okay with it. That said, if a theater presents a good product, people will go. If they don't, they won't. Marc Cuban is looking at providing a new type of movie theater to meet demand. This is a good thing! Trying to make the customer happy isn't exactly innovative, but it seems like the current movie business model is not set up for change. Well, why should the theater business operate any differently than the rest of the world? What makes them so entitled?

There's a business reason this will happen at some point, too.

"Subscribers could be charged $30 to $50 to watch an opening-day movie at home."

You see, the studios currently split the box-office profits with the theaters, 50/50. If you think I'm down on the theater system, you should note the actions of the major studios who have started to release DVDs just as soon as they can press them (thus narrowing the time a movie is in theaters). If Comcast offers someone like Warner Bros. 75% of that $50, the studios are going to have to consider it. Spider-Man 3 made $151 million at the box office last weekend, but can you imagine how it would have done if it debuted on pay-per-view too? How many people skipped opening weekend because it was packed or they simply couldn't get tickets? Hollywood must know that's a huge, untapped profit center for them. If there's one thing you can count on with the studio system, it's the pursuit of the almighty dollar.

Any good business model is pro-consumer and offers choice. Heck, even at Film.com we offer you a movie of the week for you to watch in the comfort of your home. The current new-movie delivery system is highly flawed because it's not for everyone, it's for those who want to trudge out, pay for parking, and buy some overpriced concessions. Be free, my people, we don't owe the theater system anything. Let us have movie night at home with friends, whom we've actually chosen to spend time with. And if the theater system crumbles because people don't want the experience, then so what? They used to bleed people's heads to heal them. We moved past it. New movies over cable at home wouldn't be the end of the line for every theater. It would just force everyone to try a little harder. That, my friends, would be a very good thing for everyone who invests part of their paycheck in entertainment. Long live choice!

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