In the future we will all be lazy, immobile slobs. And the movie theater industry will die because of us. As we continue to have more and more options for home entertainment, and less tolerance for the nuisances of social experiences, this future could be a certainty. Executives at Comcast, the nation's largest cable television company, seem to want us to go in that direction more than anyone. A longtime supporter of day-and-date releases -- its deal with IFC Films is actually quite good for independent film distribution -- and a recent tester of another video-on-demand download service, Comcast would apparently be fine with us never going to the cinema or video store again. No, not even for the summer blockbusters. Speaking at an annual cable trade show in Vegas, the company's COO, Steve Burke, proposed an idea for tentpole movies like Spider-Man 3 to be made available through a pay-per-view service during their opening week. The price would, of course, be extremely high: anywhere between $30 and $50 (still cheaper than many PPV sporting events).
The scary thing is that, according to Burke, a number of studios are interested in the proposal. Yeah, obviously they are. The high-priced option should barely affect the box office numbers, because tentpoles are typically accepted by audiences as movies that need to be seen in a theater. If anything, the service will likely add more money into Hollywood's pockets, as many of the people who are so lazy or bothered that they can't make it to one of Spider-Man 3's 4000 screens will be happy to fork over the fee. Plus, for every person who would have gone to the theater, but instead stays home to watch the movie on their television, the studio gets a percentage of $30-$50 rather than a percentage of $6-$13. Sounds good. Just imagine if half of those who saw Spider-Man 3 over the weekend paid about 5-times as much to see it. Surely the theater owners will have a lot to say about this idea, but as usual, they unfortunately won't have any good solutions to competing with such a plan. All they can hope for is that the majority of moviegoers prefer their blockbusters on a big screen.