You probably don't know Bob Lefsetz, but if you depended on the decimated music business to make a living, you sure would. His free e-newsletter, The Lefsetz Letter, is required reading for label executives, A&R guys, managers, publicists, bookers, and -- oh yeah, musicians, most of whom are being forced to learn economic self-reliance now that they've been abandoned/liberated by the traditional major-label system. Day in and day out, Lefsetz preaches a simple message for surviving the digital revolution: be true to your art, give the people what they want, and let the money sort itself out. And now he's turning his attention to the movie business.
There's a simple reason Hollywood has only recently begun to grapple with the kind of challenges that have been shredding the music business for a decade now: file size. Even in this current climate of technological revolution, movies take forever to download, even legally, and require a ton of space to store. For now, at least, DVDs (and enhanced cousins Blu-rays) still feel less preposterous than CDs do. It also means that -- unless you've got the patience of a monk and the hardware of a hacker -- you're probably not inclined to spend 36 hours on BitTorrent waiting for 'Fast Five' to download.
But we know that digital transfers and storage get easier every day. That's a temporary respite, not a solution. And the same goes for theatrical gimmicks like 3D and IMAX. While it's true that music artists have learned to rely on live performances (and merchandise tables) for income, since you can't download a live interaction, Hollywood may be at a disadvantage on this score. Sure, movies look better on the big screen, but it's still the same movie, which means that the theater really has to slay the living room in terms of amenities, comfort, and sheer enjoyability. Does it? Take it away, Bob:
Going to the movie theatre is a heinous experience. Forget the lack of focus and the sticky floors, what I hate most about the theatres is the other patrons. Who talk and text and think they're in their living rooms. Hell, that's why I want to stay home. If you're a teen and you want to neck, if you want to get out of your parents' purview, I get it. Or if you're a couple with young children. But most of us have first rate exhibition systems in our homes. We'd rather see the movies at home. But this doesn't comport with the interests of the studios and theatres, so what do most people do? STEAL THE MOVIES! And the music business taught us that this cannot be stopped. You can play Whac-A-Mole, you can piss off your customers, but you cannot win.Here at Moviefone HQ, we've been banging this drum pretty hard lately. That's because we think it's important. Last Thursday, we compiled your Top 5 reasons for not going to the movies. Now we want to know: What can theater owners do to improve the experience, and get you back to the movies?
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