- A number of studios have been among those running ad campaigns on and within the kid-friendly browser KidZui, including Warner Bros, Universal, Dreamworks and Paramount. The browser was initially a subscription based service but went ad-supported after it saw the results of a campaign for 2009′s Monsters Vs. Aliens.
- AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment have made good on the rumors and have launched Open Road Films, a new distribution company that will release a number of acquired titles each year. The initial buzz that it would be focused on buying independent titles that would have gone unreleased but we’ll see how that actually turns out.
- With so much room in their concessions profit margins, one analyst believes focusing on customer service and satisfaction needs to be a new priority for movie theaters, especially if studios move forward with their “Premium VOD” plans that would significantly shrink theatrical release windows.
- Sheri Candler has some good advice for independent filmmakers looking to build or flesh out their promotional content strategy.
So here’s what sticks out at me about the news that Warner Bros. is experimenting with renting movies, beginning with The Dark Knight, through Facebook, news that comes not long after it announced it would begin selling movies as apps in the iTunes App Store: Sure, it *might* be the future of online video. And it certainly spooked Netflix’s stockholders, though why it did so doesn’t make a ton of sense. But those are actually ancillary conversations.
What interests me the most about these back to back news announcements is that they show a studio who is interested in completely owning the distribution of their movies to the public.
While Warner Bros. is obviously using Apple and Facebook as the storefronts to sell rentals it seems to me that the studio still retains more control over the customer transaction than they do through other outlets such as (what’s left of) Blockbuster, Redbox or Netflix. That’s not just a reference to the massive amounts of data about renters and their friends that the studio is collecting from Facebook. It also means that the studio is taking a single (digital) copy of the movie directly to the customer instead of a communal version being shared among the community.
This model is similar to what’s available digitally on iTunes and Netflix for a while now but it differs here in that we’re talking about a studio setting up a single outpost for a single movie and selling the movie through that outpost.
It seems to me this is another example of the unbundling of media. This wasn’t sold through the Warner Bros. store, it was sold through outlets that were specific to the movie. So people didn’t even have to navigate to any sort of aggregator – be it a physical store, an online channel or anything else – to access it. That’s a big shift that’s going to have some serious impacts down the road, especially if studios decide to get hip to full on-demand availability of their catalogs that accessible through search. If the only aggregator that needs to be used is the screen – be it mobile, computer or TV – then those studios will more completely own their digital home video futures and no longer need traditional distributors in that market.