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Goodbye movie theater?

The FCC has granted the MPAA permission to send movies directly to homes on the same day they hit theaters, it said in a joint press release today. Being a fan of the theater experience, this news scares me. Though, as a fan of money in my wallet, the idea has appeal.

The bottom line is that movie studios want/need more money. Releasing movies to homes as a one-time watch event will increase sales. The question is, how much will it eat away at theaters. Will the theater experience survive an age where everyone can sit in their dark room and watch movies by themselves? It will still probably cost somewhere between $7 and $20 to see a film this way and it will probably be a one-time event, but that's still cheaper than going to a movie theater.

Ticket prices are too high already, as are concession prices. If less people go to theaters, these costs will only increase for those that do. In a way, we're in a never ending cycle of rampant cost increases and the bottom line is that studios are spending too much money making these movies. 

ScreenRant offers a good analysis of the situation. I plan to write more on the topic, but until then, I'll leave you with the official press release.

Washington, D.C. — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying it was “in the public interest” today approved a request by the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) to permit recent movies to be sent directly to American households over secure high definition transmission lines from their cable or satellite providers prior to their release on DVD or Blu-ray.

“This action is an important victory for consumers who will now have far greater access to see recent high definition movies in their homes. And it is a major step forward in the development of new business models by the motion picture industry to respond to growing consumer demand.” said Bob Pisano, President and Interim CEO of the MPAA.  “We deeply appreciate the recognition by the FCC that recently released movies need special protection against content theft when they are distributed to home televisions.”

Specifically, the issue before the FCC was a request by the MPAA for permission to use selectable output control (SOC), which would allow televisions with digitally secure interfaces to receive high-definition content from a cable, satellite or IPTV provider, before its release on DVD or Blue-ray. Using SOC protects content because during the broadcast it essentially disables non-secure, analog outputs to avoid illegal circumvention and distribution of copyrighted material.

In its order, the FCC said:  “On balance, this limited waiver will provide public interest benefits– making movies widely available for home viewing far earlier than ever before – without imposing harm on any consumers.”

“The first, and best way to view movies will always be in movie theaters – and nothing can replace the pleasure this brings to millions and millions of people all across our country and the globe,”  Pisano said.  “But for those people unable to make it to the theater and interested in viewing a recently released movie, thanks to the FCC, they will now have a new option.  For other consumers who prefer standard, linear, on-demand or DVD or Blu-ray options, these services will be unchanged."

Can there be a Cinema Soldier if there is no cinema to soldier out to each weekend?

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