There are certain movies you just have to see around the holidays. Like: A Christmas Story. “You’re gonna shoot your eye out!” Or: A Miracle on 34th Street.
I propose one more. A new Christmas tradition:
This relates to publishing, in a way. Today marks the first time that a major Hollywood release has had a simultaneous theater and digital launch. There have been some digital-only works that skipped the theaters, but nothing like this. The reluctance these days is more on the part of the theater owners than the studios.
I don’t see this changing anytime soon, but I wish it would. Theater owners know that by helping provide choice, they’ll lose some market share to home viewing and digital, hence the windowing. Publishers did the same with ebooks — withholding them while releasing hardbacks — and some of this pressure came from bookstores.
When publishers are trained to be in the bookstore business, rather than the selling-stories business, it leaves room for disruption. Because someone else will see what the market really wants and supply it. With Hollywood, there’s been a similar reluctance to see that they are in the video business, not the theater business. A remnant of this bias is that we still look at opening weekend or box office sales, when many films go on to make more money in the streaming/disc market.
With the price of large high-def TVs so low, there’s room for Hollywood to make home releases incredibly appealing. I would gladly pay $20 for a home screening of a brand new film, even if that means not owning the digital file. That’s far less than ticket prices, no gas, and cheap popcorn. You could probably get away with $30 and still make these releases an event.
If that sounds nuts, look at sports. NFL is an ad-supported, home-watching event. Those TV contracts are in the billions. Stadium tickets are a bonus. And just as fans look forward to Saturday (for college football) or Sunday (for pro football), I think you could make Friday nights the order-a-pizza-and-watch-a-new-film night. Especially in the age of social media, where watching a day late means missing out on a communal experience.