Change The Model: Build New Alliances To Deliver Greater Value For A Better Price

The post I did on "The Really Bad Things In The Indie Film Biz 2012" has generated a lot of health conversations.  The wise recognize that each of these really bad things is just an opportunity to make this all better -- and sometimes to make some money.  The post has been shared and "liked" more that usual for this blog and I think that speaks well of our collective endeavor to rescue indie film. I particularly liked all the comments the blog generated, and have done my best to reply to them.  Thanks for the participation!

I want to single out one comment in particular from Jb Bruno, who kindly has allowed me to repost it here:

Maybe one way to break the hold the people at the top have on the artists is to change the model, as it’s a model that serves them but not even one an audience really wants.

Movie-going in its infancy was about people buying a ticket, which got them into a show, where they could get entertainment they could not get at home. While there, they could buy snacks like popcorn and peanuts and sodas. This was the same model as other forms of entertainment; baseball games, circuses, traveling shows, etc. Buy your ticket, get in, watch it, buy our over-priced snacks, get out.

Today, we have entertainment at our fingertips everywhere wherever we go. What is our theatrical model? Buy your ticket, get in, watch it, buy our over-priced snacks, get out.

Maybe that works for the spate of blockbusters that are basically extensions of video games or franchises, but not only doesn’t it work for the types of stories we are talking about telling, but it doesn’t appeal to the type of person that wants this type of fare.

Could we not find ways to partner with other activities where seeing the movie was only part of the experience?. What if people could purchase memberships that got them not only in to see a movie, but also combine with other things that are part of their interests. Those “other things” could be part of packages that could be tailored to people’s taste: for one person, it could be opera, or museums; for another, stand-up comedy or dinner; for someone else, metal clubs and hookah bars.

What if this expanded also ethnically and culturally, and we started speaking to audiences outside of middle-aged White guys like me?

It would mean forming communities with other groups, and isn’t the idea of the larger community a good thing?

The only people the “buy your ticket” model serves is the current establishment, whose interest certainly isn’t with the filmmaker.

Those packages could range in price-scale, so in the end, it wasn’t $13-15 dollars for a two-hour-and-out experience.

Changing the model would be hard work, but would it be any harder, or more frustrating, than the one-size-fits-all model we now have no control over? At least, we wouldn’t be at the mercy of the gate-keepers.

It's a good idea, yeah?  I know I want a lot more for my money that the expenditure of time and the opportunity to overpay for snacks I never wanted in the first place.  What are the barriers we need to overcome if we are going to make this work?

Exhibitors control the ticket pricing.  Will this have to be done at the exhibitor level?  If so, does that mean it must be locally based?

Who provides the discount?  The exhibitor or the participating additional party?  How can we make both sides sacrifice since both sides will benefit?  Does it require that the film be four-walled so that the discounts happen?

There must be some pre-existing models and experiments with this already.  Does anyone know of them?

What would be some examples of perfect pairings?

 

The Price For (Most) Cinema Should Now Be Zero

Ticket prices for movies in the US keep rising.  The LA Times reported that the average cost is now about $8.00.  That's what I pay for Netflix where I get WatchNow! movies for no additional cost.  I have a typical NYC apartment where the width is about 15 ft wide; that's enough to have a 8 ft projector screen and a good spread of sound.    As much as I love to watch films with a crowd and great projection it is hard to justify spending more money when I suspect the films are not as good as the ones I get for $0 directed by Godard and Kurosowa. As filmmakers, the question we need to ask is: what is the added value that we can bring to the live cinema experience that justifies the additional cost for our films over the ones others can easily get for free. The films I get at home offer convenience, comfort, quality sound & image, affordable & personalized refreshments,  and no unpleasantries inflicted via strangers.  The films I get in the theater are new; is that alone really worth the price?  Can any price be justified just so they can get me out of the home and have another opportunity to sell me something?

I go to the movies far more often than most and pay 50% higher than the national average when I do so.  Why do I go?  I go to the movie theater for nostalgia factor and for political reasons (to support my industry and culture) -- at least those are the reasons that make the most sense to me.  I go to the movies also because I like to get out of the house, and it's patterned behavior, but that doesn't justify the price point.

Is the price point for theatrical exhibition justified by  the distributors' practice of manufacturing the desire and limiting the access for specific content?  If I can't get it at home, would I trade an annual subscription to a magazine or a month worth of unlimited access to catalogue titles (via Netflix) for seeing it in a theater?  And since I prefer to see movies with my wife is the event worth two magazines or two months (or three if we want popcorn with those tickets)?  Forget about piracy; sure people can steal it or copy it, but even when you consider the legal alternatives, the price point of cinema these days is not justified when we consider the superior value of other leisure time alternatives.