The big news of the day in the American movie biz is a footnote to the rest of the world. After a decade of playing “you pay for it,” the American movie industry has finally found outside investors to convert chain movie theaters all over the country to digital projection. About 14,000 screens in multiplex theaters are involved. Wall Street Journal readers from Australia to France might puzzle at why it takes J.P. Morgan Chase bankers to do this.
The American theater owners are giants: AMC, Cinemark, and Regal control most of the theaters in the US. You mean to tell me they can’t finance their own modernization? Apparently they’d rather be in the popcorn business. The acronym for this stimulus package is: KASIMA. The bankers coined this. It stands for “Kicking And Screaming Into the Modern Age.”
The real motivation for these later-day conversos to digital is their failing business model. Movie-going in the US has become a weekend recreation. Monday through Wednesday you can throw a bowling bowl down the aisle of any theater and not hit anyone. Digital projection means theaters can import signals from a variety of events from sporting matches to Glenn Beck. (Mr. Beck already appears on about 450 screens already converted, as does the Metropolitan Opera-though not together. Both are very popular).
Freedom to dip into multiple sources of programming and not depend exclusively on the Hollywood pipeline is the dream of movie theater chains. But having the means is not having the motivation. Once Hollywood is not the only source of product for the theaters, who books the shows and who does the promotion? Even though it might cost $250,000 to equip a Regal Cinema, it costs less than $5000 to put the same capabilities for simulcast satellite delivery in any playhouse, club, or restaurant. These venues become competition for the theater chain oligarchy. Do you want to watch a soccer match munching popcorn or eating steak and drinking beer?
MovieWithMe.com’s sister company, AudienceSource.us is already busy programming for all of these venues. The future of digital delivery of special simulcast events belongs to the packagers and their wiliness in promotion. It’s relatively easy to push people into movie theaters with 25 million dollars of Hollywood ad money, but how do you do it on two dollars and ninety-five cents? That’s the real conundrum for the digital future, and the KASIMA crowd hasn’t a clue.Link to this Post: http://www.moviewithme.com/blog/archives/545