Search This Blog

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Butts In Seats

I know I tread this ground quite a lot, but - I'm ill. I have various conditions that make doing things difficult or impossible. I feel like I talk about it often, but like, it's literally my life, so - my apologies. If me talking about my chronic illness is liable to upset you, feel free to check this out - it's a blog I did on Secret of Mana and video games in general.

It means that some days, my mobility is terrible, and getting out of the house is nigh on impossible. Can't usually predict which one of those days I am going to have, either; though sometimes I will wake up and the lack of mobility is obvious. Like, if you told me that there was a fifty pound note on the other side of my bedroom - there's days (and more of them than I'd like, like several a month) wherein I would probably have to just leave it there.

One of the downsides of this is that, well, doing stuff that isn't work becomes difficult. If I can't get out of the house, doing EVERYTHING becomes difficult; and even on a good day I have to be aware of energy levels, of how much what I am about to do will hurt after an hour, two hours, half a day.

This sucks, because I like doing things. Especially watching movies in the cinema.

I mean, you know I like them movies. I talk about them often enough. I do wish I could catch every release - there's so many movies in the past five years that I just haven't been able to see when they came out, so I've had to wait until they get a home or streaming release.

Or something.

It isn't even just those days wherein I can barely make it to the bathroom. At the end of a work day, I just don't have the energy to do much aside from get home again. It sucks. That's a big chunk of hours that are basically not usable for anything specific. After a decent week's work the weekend is kind of a waste; I spend most of it willing my joints to operate properly again, and that's all before the actual physical work of getting to the movies and being able to sit in a cinema seat for three hours without the subsequent pain and discomfort fucking the movie up.

So yeah. I missed a bunch.

More than a few of those movies, I wasn't too hard-bitten about. Like. Midway? I already know how that ends. Turned out to be a great film when I finally got to watch it, but there's nothing to ruin there, nothing to give away.

Sure, I know people are annoyed about spoiler culture and anti spoiler culture, but this is one of the big ones.

I really enjoy the new Star Wars movies; and thus, I was hyped to watch Rise Of Skywalker when it came out.

Except I didn't get to.

I spent Christmas basically crippled. I couldn't get out of the house; my knee literally wouldn't support my weight, and I had a chest infection that felt like I was dying slowly. It was pretty killer. Not much fun to be had. No opportunities came up to catch it. The few days I made it into work or was fit enough to walk around and do things while it was out, I got the things done I had to, and that was it. I was wiped out for the day. Sometimes barely even that - at one point I almost didn't make it home.

So I never saw it. It slipped out of movie theatres. I was still ill. Then I start pulling myself back together again, and then along comes pandemic season and everything is fucked again.

Not to mention the arthritis having another shot at me as the stay-at-home orders were signed, but that's another story.

The point is that there were certain large plot points in the movie that, after a certain point, just got talked about in public or hinted at strongly enough that anyone could piece them together. I don't want to crucify people that give out spoilers, but at the same time - I'm really hoping that the movie can tell me the story, rather than someone obliquely referring to a bit of it and outing that chunk so that when it comes along when I DO watch it, I just go "oh yeah that's what happens now".

I'm pretty sure that the crew that made the movie are a better storyteller than "angry man in front of greenscreen on youtube".

But that's just the way it is, right? You can't catch the movie when it comes out, then - well, get fucked, right? "It's been [arbitrary amount of time], you should have seen it already if you care so much about it," is often a defence for spoiler-friendly folks. Which. You know. Whatever. Perhaps there's a reason that a person hasn't seen a movie yet. Like, you know.

Imagine me gesturing at my body in general.

Just the way it is, though - but does it have to be?

Well, Universal didn't think so.

Yeah, see I'm not a fan of the franchise, BUT...

So one thing that is coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic is many wings of society are accidentally revealing that they can actually be more accessible than they currently are. The sheer amount of businesses that have made the shock discovery that many of their employees can actually work from home is astounding. Businesses providing contact-free or kerbside delivery. Sure, it's all being done in a very bootstrappy fashion and because there's no other option, but - for some of their consumers and employees, there already was no other option.

It seems that the movie market has caught on, too, because Universal decided that Trolls World Tour should be released on rental on-demand at the same time as its US cinematic release, seeing as the world was trying to stay indoors as much as possible. It isn't just Trolls either - several of their other releases saw a similar plan. It isn't a new idea, either; the Chinese cinema industry took several similar measures two months prior, allowing a bunch of movies to be released day-and-date at the same time in both theatres and at home. It also isn't the first time Universal has done this - it did the same thing with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

They aren't the only business cashing in on the pandemic, either deliberately or accident of timing. Disney+ and Netflix have both had significant gains, and Disney+ has engaged directly in pandemic advertising; and lets face it, Animal Crossing came out at exactly the right time to get half the gaming world hooked just when they can't go to work.

Well - the Trolls thing seemed to work. It took $40 million in its opening weekend, in the onset of a pandemic. Sure, that doesn't cover the cost of production, but that is an opening weekend when people literally aren't allowed to go outside and cinemas are literally closed.

Like, that isn't shabby.

And nothing quite shows that you have succeeded at doing something that vaguely disrupts the status quo than...

The full article is here.

Of course there will be kickback. The model has worked this way for a long, LONG time, and people don't want to have to adjust to a different model - or a deviation from the current model. Just keep pouring the money in our pockets! Why do you have to make us think about things!? Just pay us and shut up!

The relevant section:

“This policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes,” AMC chairman Adam Aron write in the letter. “Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.”

Now... here's the thing.

When I was sat at home the entire time my knee was busted, I wasn't putting any money in the pockets of either my local cinema (which isn't a chain, it's mostly indie) OR Lucasfilm/Disney. It just wasn't happening, because I couldn't go to the movies, and I couldn't make the choice to pay on demand.

You know how free-market plebs often say that the market responds to demand? Well, it seems that Universal did that, without asking nicely; which is kind of a dick move, but at the same time, it showed that it can be done - and showed that it can rake in funds.

If the cinema chains are clever, and careful, then they can get a slice of the pie that companies like Universal are going to bake. If people act in good faith then this could be good for all of us, because I know that there is demand for such a service. From people like me, for one.

And there's so much cross-marketing that could be going on via the medium of a website. You want to watch a movie on release day? You click through to your local cinema, and from there, to their on-demand one-viewing rental website. You pay for a midnight viewing, which becomes available immediately after midnight. There could be reviews available, professional and user-based. A magazine section, to check out upcoming releases and read articles about the industry. Adverts for local food delivery places, that offer a slight discount on a click-through, as a partnership promotion. Synchronised viewing links so you can watch a movie at the same time as someone else, or "Viewing Rooms" like Twitch.

People have more and more complicated media setups at home; huge TVs, PCs and laptops with incredible screen resolutions and headsets with vast fidelity. I know it isn't the same as a big screen, but you know how it's better? You don't have to view it from the bottom corner, and you don't have to deal with that mob of teenagers throwing popcorn and being obnoxious, and the only person you need to move for is you. And even if they don't - Jesus Christ, I just want to see the movie. Don't give me shit because I can't afford a 4K TV. We've managed to watch films on VHS before the heady days of DVD and BluRay, I daresay I can enjoy one on a cheap laptop.

Imagine how good that could be. Imagine how good it would be, right now, to be able to have that, in this time when we have to stay inside; now imagine that all the time, for the people that find going to the movies difficult or impossible for whatever reason. Imagine having that available to you, and knowing that the money you pay for the viewing is going back to the industry, paying those that made the film you are watching. Knowing that if you stream Movie A, that it will be counted as the take for Movie A for the opening weekend, to prove that it performed better than Movie B.

Of course there's a million and one reasons it won't happen; and there's even more reasons why, if it happens, it will fuck someone over. We can't ever have a thing just work out. At a guess, if it does become an industry practice, then the cinema chains are going to suffer a lot for it and will start having to tighten their belts, which will lead to talk of the death of cinema - and who knows, from there?

And that's the sad, shit thing. With every potential innovation, with every method of making life easier or better, comes the innevitable question:

How will Capitalism make it awful?

People ask me why I'm a cynic.

If you'd care to share my blog with your friends, I'd appreciate that! If you'd like to thank me in a fiscal form for entertaining you a little bit, I do have a Patreon right here, but please - no pressure. Thank you for reading, and check my social media to the right to keep in touch.

No comments:

Post a Comment