Before I dive into this let’s get this out of the way.
Another article somewhere on the Internet written about The Interview.
And as I’m writing this there are a bunch of crying babies in the Starbucks I’m at. Expect some snark. That being said let’s dive into whatever it is I want to write.
I think Sony’s release of The Interview on digital streaming services alongside a limited release to theaters was a brilliant move that, given the circumstances, has proved to be an experiment that most of Hollywood has been reluctant to take. To see just what the fallout would be of streaming a brand new movie to consumers verses tying it exclusively to the theater experience has been something truly unique in the modern era where studios are only slowly starting to embrace the technology that us consumers have long advocated. As someone who once advocated for cable-cutting (I have since shifted my stance) I’ve longed for the day that something like The Interview happened.
So since December 24th I’ve been following it, just to see what happens.
Within three hours a torrented version made the front page of Reddit.
Within two days it had been torrented over 750,000 times. At my last check today there are mumblings that it’s possible that for every paid stream of the movie there has been a torrent. The number has only increased since then, especially as it picks up traction. But to date (as of this writing December 29th) it has made $15M through the digital option. With the very real possibility that it has managed to make five times the amount through the traditional (but limited) theater release. So with that being said let’s just round it to $3M made in its limited theater release. $18M made in less than a week. Nothing stellar when you consider the huge boycott and backlash against it.
Still more than it would’ve made had it not released altogether. But a pretty huge loss for Sony at the moment. Despite all the free publicity it had gotten through the controversy it stirred.
I’m going to step back though and just let myself think this through. Right now it was the theaters who boycotted The Interview who cost Sony the most money. Right? Through streaming services like Youtube, Xbox Live and others (but oddly not PSN initially) Sony has managed to make some money back to at least not have it be a total disaster. Odd. Even writing it out it just seems off. Even with the torrents available people still paid for it.
TL;DR: Brick and mortar theaters hurt the profits of the movie while digital streaming actually managed to make the movie money.
It may have something to do with this.
$6 to stream the same day as it released in the theaters.
Way cheaper than going to a movie and paying for individual tickets, food and transportation. All in the comfort whatever space you want to watch this in.
Which may be the biggest draw to this experiment because in an act of sheer desperation Sony became amazingly progressive in giving consumers the choice to how they wanted to consume it. Whatever the outcome of The Interview I can’t help but get a little optimistic.
This, as I viewed it, could be a rough draft of what’s to come from filmmakers. Even with the weak security measures from Sony (I’m noticing a trend with Sony) that enabled easy piracy of the movie; I can’t help but wonder just what could be done with proper security features that would lock down the movie streams from casual piracy. With a price that could factor out the movie theaters with the direct to consumer model.
With movies like The Avengers: Age of Ultron on the horizon I find myself wondering at what cost I wouldn’t pay to stream the movie. Or really any new movie that, with my busy schedule, gives me the freedom to decide when and where I want to see it. Becoming pro-consumer doesn’t have to be an act of desperation. If anything it makes me more likely to spend my time with the product of the company in question.
These companies have to remember that giving us consumers choice could be a game changer in profits since they won’t have to split anything with the theaters. That maybe with a price low enough to appeal to the mass-market on the verge of drowning in endless distractions; streaming could be the buoy that gives way to stability and a reliable fan-base that otherwise wouldn’t exist had the movie been tied to a theater release. Mentioned above that the price would have to be good and fair.
I’d pay $15-$20 to stream a new Marvel movie (or any good looking movie) on the day of its release. Not to own either. Just to have that premium luxury to stay in my apartment for an afternoon enjoying some kickass awesomeness. I know I’m not alone with that desire. Being something a lot of my friends have had grumblings of since December 24th.
Please give me a reason to give you my money.